The Value of Discussion

Editorial  /  by Jason Zhang '15  /  September 26, 2014

Last week, Opinions Editor Anuj Krishnamurthy wrote an Op-Ed commenting on our privilege in having unparalleled opportunities to express our opinions through media, and lamenting that few members of the community ever take advantage of them. This week, I would like to expand by noting the lack of dialogue, even outside of publications, among Lawrentians concerning international events.

It seems that a new incident occurs every few days. NFL players are facing widespread criticism over evidence of domestic violence and child abuse. JetBlue’s CEO stepped down after an engine exploded mid-flight on one of its planes. Congress recently voted to give aid to rebels fighting against the Islamic State. Scotland refused independence from England. The US Air Force intercepted six Russian planes near American airspace.

And yet, for all the turmoil in the world, few students have discussed the events. In fact, we seem more focused on the latest gossip and the day’s lunch menu than on the news. Even at a school that prides itself on its intellectual life, we seem to only talk about these occurrences through venues such as The First Amendment and Model UN. And while discussion at clubs established for the express purpose of talking about these events is laudable, it is quite different from discussion during our leisure time, where it is for pleasure rather than for work.

Dialogue about these events is important because they allow us to make sense of oftentimes complicated events in the world, and because they force us to recognize rational, opposing points of view. At Lawrenceville, there is little of this dialogue, perhaps because of the “bubble” we live in. The relative isolation of Lawrenceville from the outside world may contribute to this lack of connection with national and international events. Although it may be comfortable to live in a world where all we have to worry about are our social and academic lives, we need to be able to face and discuss the challenges that we are being educated to solve.

Lawrenceville is a community of exceptional students, each with the capacity to formulate an opinion. So why do we not discuss them? My hope is that, gradually, we will start taking the initiative to converse amongst ourselves and with faculty about the events that are happening around us, whether they impact us directly or not.

– JZ