Downing: Debating your opinion is crucial

Adam Downing, Op-Ed Contributor

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I’ve always loved to debate. That’s something those who know me from home will tell you without a second’s hesitation. And, besides getting me into more than one awkward situation, I genuinely believe that debating — arguing for what you believe in — broadens the mind. Through debate, we understand our own opinions and beliefs more than we could when just sitting alone with them.

I know that, as a student body, we have passions and care deeply about things that will go on to affect our lives, whether they be as small as “Which is better: Blaze Pizza or The Kiln?” or more substantial, like the recent deployment of troops to the Middle East. We are a student body that feels so passionately about such a vast array of topics. So the idea that we don’t talk constantly about the very political and social policies that dictate our lives both here and at home seems to defy reason.

We are all guilty of it. It is easy to talk about other things, like Beyonce’s new babies or the fact that construction on Sheridan Road is still going on. However, it is important to discuss global issues more often on campus, something that appears to not be happening. Look no further for evidence of this than how poorly attended most Northwestern events regarding global and political issues are. Sure, everyone is happy to come out and listen to Samantha Power, but where are the students at smaller speakers events? Students seem willing to debate big picture issues, but rarely focus on actual policy that isn’t on the front page of a national paper, and even then those conversations seem to be only a passing fad.

I have a few ideas on why we –– a well educated, deeply intellectual student body –– can’t seem to hold lasting debates on global issues. It might stem from a fear of being wrong, that we might say something considered unintelligent. It is vital to get your facts straight before forming an opinion, but one should not be afraid to be wrong every once in awhile, so long as your opinion is not offensive or dismissive of others. Maybe we don’t want to appear insensitive — after all, we want to be liked by those around us and want them to agree with what we have to say. No one likes it when people don’t agree with them, but stand strong in the face of this fear. If students don’t like you for your opinions, so be it. At least you have principles to fight for.

Your voice matters when it comes to global issues. Even if you feel like what you’re saying has been said before, or that maybe someone won’t agree with you, you should still say it. Be proud of what you believe in, share your ideas, speak up in class or even just shout it from the roof of Technological Institute for the world to hear. For without your ideas and your opinions, what makes you different from anyone else?

Adam Downing is a Weinberg freshman. He can be contacted at If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.