Describe the project that you did and the message you were trying to convey.
My topic- mental healthcare and awareness (or lack thereof) in our modern America- was inspired by a collaboration with my friend. I wanted to explore the debate of public versus private funding for services like education and healthcare. After struggling with their own mental health, my friend thought it was important to examine the way our country sees and handles mental struggles. With their permission and assistance, I took the opportunity to combine the two. From the very beginning, I knew my piece would be spoken aloud. I felt that a speech would be the most genuine, effective, and powerful way for me to deliver a message. As my topic developed, I decided to perform in a TED talk format, incorporating both visual and spoken aspects to reach an audience. (The written manuscript for this speech is above, and the slideshow is soon to come.) My piece is meant to be a call for government assistance and social acceptance, but it's not just that. With my project, I encourage people to support, respect, and be aware of the problems that our people are experiencing. I'm no expert economist or powerful politician- of course I don't have the capability to find the perfect solution to this crisis. I am a student who cares about those that are suffering, and what I can do is show others why they should care as well.
Now that you have looked at the political spectrum more deeply, how and why has your perspective shifted? What have you discovered about your own emerging ideology as a young American? What do you understand about the ideology of others that you didn’t before?
I'm realizing more and more that ideology is defined more by general values than it is by specific issues. Although many people claim to be purely driven by logic, no healthy human being really is- emotions always hold great influence over our opinions. Self-awareness is perhaps one of the most valuable things to gain. I also think that I understand extremists more after this unit. When people participate in something like the Capitol riots, they are often driven by intense fear and anger- they feel threatened, and try to defend themselves and their way of life. They have been driven to that point through rhetoric filled with hate and lies. I've realized just how dangerous such instances of manipulation can be- it's imperative that we stop them from happening.
What have you learned about rhetoric, ideology, and the “democratic experiment”?
I have realized that ignorance leaves you susceptible to manipulation, and I actively try to avoid it. I know that I'm not the first or the last student to say I now recognize rhetoric everywhere I look. In general, I find myself much more conscious of the ideologies behind what I read, hear, and observe in society. If I am reading an article, I make sure to pay attention to the way it makes me feel. As I stated above, feelings are important, and often drive what we do- if someone can make you feel a certain way, you are more likely to act There's no need to be paranoid, but awareness is important
What role could Rogerian rhetoric and/or a “willingness to be disturbed” play in a democratic society?
Democracy encourages personal independence and voice- we are all entitled to our own ideology and expression- but if a democratic society is to stay in place, citizens must also know how and when to yield to each other. This essential principle is at the heart of Rogerian rhetoric. In this style of argument, we acknowledge and validate the other side in order to connect with it. Instead of approaching others with hostility, we respect them as equals. Through focusing on our common ground, we create unity rather than division. In order to stay intact, every society needs this sense of unity. Sometimes it is forced on the public through harsh government regulations and policies of assimilation. But in a democracy, it is up to the people to achieve this balance. We can do so by taking a more Rogerian approach to our debates and interactions with each other.