Zachary Antoyan is a political science senior and Mustang News liberal columnist. These views do not necessarily reflect the opinion or editorial coverage of Mustang News.
Last week, I identified and defended a conservative attitude. Blasphemy, I know. But I stand by it because if an education does anything to the political views of students, it would be to make them more moderate, contrary to the popular belief that it liberalizes them. I am a far cry from a once-held mentality that idolized and romanticized the actions of revolutionaries. Fire and anarchy, as it turns out, are not exactly the best systems of government.
Tyler Durden and Guy Fawkes shouldn’t be role models for change. Unfortunately, it took me a while to fully understand that. I watched a lot of movies back then, gimme a break. I’m telling you this about myself in order to highlight a reorganization; a willing shift in outlook sustained by the acceptance of new information and an understanding of different perspectives. Whereas once I was a liberal, now I am simply political.
Politics is the dialogue that exists between individuals about the path they walk together. Through this lens, politics becomes more than just bickering about recent issues. Simply, it is the way in which we decide how to best move forward. And while differences between us exist, I am confident that a commitment to empathy rather than entrenchment would do us all good.
I struggled for a while to comprehend the science aspect of my political science degree. My friends in the hard sciences are quick to inform me that my field of study could hardly be called a science at all. They are content in their ignorance. Because truth be told, I seek an understanding of subjects more elusive than the Higgs Boson and attempt to comprehend their interactions, of which no two are alike. There are no universal laws that govern the actions of those I study, no core theory that explains all of their behavior. Humans are fickle subjects, especially when they try to exist among one another.
And there are so many of them — billions that have been and billions that will be. Each with their own perspective on the world around them, living from one day to the other, trying to make sense of everything they experience. And perhaps on some particular day they will come across an anthropologist or a political scientist doing very much the same thing, trying to make sense of what they encounter. The observer will ask questions, prod and poke, in the hopes of understanding the experiences of others. Simultaneously, they add to the collective understanding about each of those billions of subjects; they contribute to our narrative.
The study of political science is not meant to be merely a descriptive task; there is yet a greater endgame to work toward. Some consider the pursuit of utopia a hopeless endeavor. There is no denying the difficulty of identifying and understanding the influencing variables in societies or groups, no doubt they vary in as many ways as humans do. Nevertheless, there is a level of thrill involved in attempting the impossible. This is where you come in — I want you to help me.
I have been writing this column for two years now, so as my stint draws to a close in a few weeks, I wanted to ask a favor of you. Looking back, there are some columns, sentences, word choices, arguments and jokes I’ve made that cause me to cringe when I think about them. Even still, while a main focus of mine was to entertain, I also wanted to inform (and I hope that was accomplished on some level). I wanted to provide you with the necessary information to make your own decisions, perhaps with a dash of commentary. But, this is not a takeaway statement; I do not want to fool you into thinking this column has culminated into some grand message. Instead, I want to charge you.
So I want you to take your current conception of politics and government and throw it the hell away. Start over. Build a whole new political ideology, something uniquely your own. You need not approach politics with the same level of rigor as a political scientist; begin with what you are passionate about. Allow the perspectives of those around you to inform (rather than influence) your political views and seek out the experiences of others to further develop an idea of what you stand for. Start your own damn political party and throw actual parties.
It’s OK to not have an opinion on a subject, it’s OK to be unsure of what you believe and it’s OK to have conflicting ideologies. You will be learning, you will be growing, you will be experiencing and, most importantly, you will be connecting with others about passions shared and passions unshared. With an attitude that views politics as an accessible, non-mutually exclusive environment for dialogue, we can indeed move toward that notion of utopia, whatever the hell it is.
And that is what being political is: seeking out different and even contrary perspectives on our own to inform our decisions and discourse. Being political represents more than just seeing topics in terms of red or blue, left or right. Those are meaningless distinctions; identifiers that few people are able to comprehend, let alone recount. But you, you are full of meaning, and life is full of opportunities to learn, grow and see things from wild, new perspectives. Life should consistently inform your political views, even if that means you don’t fit within the existing conceptions of the term. Because you are not a stagnant being and your political views shouldn’t have to be, either.
This is Zachary Antoyan, thanking his editors for dealing with his very unprofessional ass and hoping they find an even better writer in the future. Thanking his Dad for being his most consistent reader. Thanking his friends for reading the column, if they did. And thanking Mustang News for letting him write whatever the hell he wants, even if it was hippie-liberal bullshit. One more column after this one; let’s hope it’s good.
Nathan recommended this article. He was right! Your definition of politics varies slightly from mine, but essentially harmonious, Andrew. As I reflected on how I develop my views, I see life experiences, overseas travel, and writings of others having the most influence. One example: as a small business owner, I’ve become convinced that close supervision affords the best opportunity for individual tailoring to the client. So, smaller, more local government/regulations appeal to me. Great article, Andrew!
My son, Matthew, at 16 says, “When I threw out all my political beliefs, I realized all the experiences I’ve had would just give me back the beliefs I had.”
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