The value of bold and civil debateOver the past month I’ve had the opportunity to weigh in on some controversial state and local issues, including the LDS Church donation to the Utah Pride Center and the question of changing the name of Dixie State University. I credit this news outlet, The Independent, with providing me the chance to do this; it truly is a publication that answered to no one but itself and this community. However, this isn’t just a shameless plug for The Independent. This is me saying that if it weren’t for media organizations willing to go against the grain, there would be no such thing as debate.

Debate. It’s such an American word, probably even more American than “Freedom.” This nation was built on debate: the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention, the Federalist Papers, etc. All these great American events were fueled by debate.

Debate really is the center of democracy. If you live in a place where debate is either discouraged or outright quelled, there’s a good chance you’re living under a tyranny—be it a locally-controlled tyranny or one in a far away capital; it’s all the same.

Despite the democratic roots of debate, it’s still an uncomfortable notion for many people. Most of us don’t like confrontation, so when conflict arises, it can be easy to take one of two routes to avoid it: hide our heads and pretend it’s not happening or lash out at the purveyors of ideas because what’s being said is just too painful to hear.

Being someone who has found a comfortable spot while discussing uncomfortable topics, I would encourage everyone to take neither of the above two options. Instead, I suggest taking the third option: actively engaging in debates with an open mind. Who knows? You might actually learn something.

All good philosophy is based on the concept of the “dialectic,” which is a Greek word that refers to the discussion of opposing ideas with the purpose of reaching a solution that transcends both former propositions. Dialectic brings us to the happy middle and allows a consideration of all ideas.

Without embracing this concept, Western philosophy would never have moved past Plato, let alone to John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, or Martin Luther King Jr.

So as this community grows, and with it a new university, I encourage all the citizen’s of this great place to engage boldly—but civilly—to make your voice known. It’s the only way to progress.

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