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How to Deal With Being a Conservative at a Liberal School
Being a conservative in a liberal school might be one of the most alienating social experience a student can have at school. Political views, social activities, attitudes... these all work together to shape the college experience, and it can be a rather disconcerting when you seem to be going against the flow of things that seem to be mainstream.
However, we cannot deny how being a conservative in a liberal school can also be a most enriching and growing experience for yourself. In fact, being prepared and arming yourself with the right and healthy attitude will help you survive and thrive as a conservative in a liberal school. This hub is written to help you along.
Seeing Things from a Biblical Worldview
- Boundless Webzine - Worldview
This is one of the best places for Christians to go - Before you become confused with all that creationist vs darwinian debate, reading this helps you to reconcile what you might be learning at school with what you read in the Bible.
Know How Your Worldview Compares With the Rest of the School
Now, the worldview adopt we take colors the perspective we have of everything that we see. We may not always be aware of our worldview, as it develops so naturally as a result of our socialization and upbringing.
I wish someone had told me before I entered college - it is so important to know what kind of worldview you have, and how it compares to the worldview that you may be learning in class. For example, if you are a conservative Christian, you then adopt the biblical worldview - which views everything from the perspective of sin as the problem, and Jesus being the solution.
Thus, for example, you could be studying a class where people argued that banning gay marriage was an infringement of human rights to freedom, and so same-sex marriage ought to be legal. From this point of view, it would be logical. However, from a biblical point of view, sin is measured according to God's standards, and true freedom is only found in Jesus Christ, thus the assumption of gay marriage leading to human rights to freedom would then be a false assumption to begin with, according to this biblical point of view.
It is wise, to be aware of your own personal worldview, and how it differs from that of your classmates', or the mainstream teaching in your liberal classroom. This will be so helpful, especially when you deal with controversial and potentially 'faith-wrecking' topics and personalities such as Freud, Carl Jung, Marxism...Darwinism..
Know How To Engage Arguments Within a Particular Worldview Itself
In school, you will be exposed to an entirely foreign set of beliefs and theories. Your professors will not be impressed if you keep throwing conservative ideas at them without being able to engage what they discuss in class.
When you argue, you can always say 'From a Sociological point of view... from a Darwinian point of view... from Jung's theory...' to frame your argument. Wise students will frame their answers well to demonstrate that they understand the argument/theory/idea of a particular figure.
It is unfortunate however, that many professors in a liberal school favor liberal perspectives, and see conservative arguments as weak especially if they are not expressed eloquently. I am not saying that you should compromise your stand, but when you frame your statements with 'according to ______, from a postmodernist/feminist/humanistic perspective, ___.......' not only does establishes that you know your material, and are able to engage it, but it most importantly reminds your brain to depersonalize that set of theories and ideas from your personal belief system.
It is always so easy to be sucked into the dominant culture in a liberal school, as you are surrounded by liberal perspectives all the time.
Know That Distinction Between Arguing from a Particular Worldview and Believing In It
This is so straightforward, but in reality, we often intertwine our emotions and our intellect together. When you argue saying 'from a Psycho-dynamic point of view,...' you do not have to belief in your argument. Think of yourself as a scholar, that learning all these theories widens and broadens your thinking and perspectives, helping you become more discerning in the process - but not necessarily changing your belief system.
Even in science, new discoveries are being made that debunk old theories - but this alone should not stop us from pursuing science should it?
Surround Yourself With Friends and Engage Conversation
You are not the only conservative in a liberal school - it may seem so, but you can safely bet that you'd be able to find more like-minded friends if you look hard enough.
Find some like-minded souls and talk about these things. Better still, find some liberal friends who would be willing to engage in conversation too. It is likely that it would be an enriching time for all parties involved.
If you are confused, talk to someone wiser than you before you engage your peers. Often, I have had the best conversations about these matters with older adults who have gone through the same experience as me. Or seniors who are able to articulate their thought processes in a way that help me to process my thoughts such that things can reconcile in my head.
The best way to engage in conversations is in humility, and in asking questions. Conservatives often are in conflict with liberals as we are seen as judgmental, prudes.... but sincere conversation that is gentle often opens up more than mere conversation - besides the attitudes or beliefs that may be discussed or expressed, you will probably be able to sense the heart of your friend - they will sense yours too - and that is precious.
Be Firm And Kind About Your Social, Political Boundaries
Now, if you are conservative in a liberal school, there is probably an entire social scene that you are probably not drawn to. Perhaps all the partying, drinking, and all that activity that takes place before and after.... are not your cup of tea. In fact, you might have felt shocked when you were first exposed to it. It takes courage to be different, but be firm about your stand, and find friends who will respect your courage.
Work Out Your Limits Beforehand, so that when you are confronted with a situation, you will not compromise or be tempted. Think of answers that show your humor in respectful ways, so that your peers know that you are not avoiding them, but you are merely standing your ground. PRACTICE saying no, PRACTICE your kind refusals...
Perhaps you might order a tea or juice when they go drinking, leave at a certain designated time (so you spend time with them just not till things get wild), invite them to an alternative outing that you would gladly participate in instead, find a friend who can watch out for your back, or protect you when you politely refuse...
Listen To the Liberal Perspectives Thoroughly Before Commenting
Very often, arguments behind abortion, same-sex marriage, gender-equality, welfare... may sound rather 'desirable'. This is why many college students who are not grounded in their beliefs may find them appealing or 'right', and swing over to the side of the liberal.
I believe that any view taken to the extreme will lead to hurtful and regrettable actions. Sometimes, as conservatives, we may be quicker to judge and condemn than we realize. Conservatives often have very compassionate hearts that we fail to notice.
Sometimes, taking time to evaluate an opposing argument, or taking time to listen to someone's story, might be the most loving thing to do.
Who knows, in the process, it might just help you realize what a special privilege you have when you are a conservative in a liberal school.