by Ela Passarelli
The night after Parkland, I was helping my grandpa clean up in his kitchen. I had been depressed and uneasy the entire day, sickened by the videos I shouldn’t have watched on twitter and the memorial articles for 17 dead students. My grandfather asked me how I felt about it, being a student and all, and I told him how horrified I was by the whole thing. As I started to launch into a rant about gun control laws, I realized that my extremely Republican grandpa may not agree with what I was about to say. I froze, terrified by the thought that someone I loved could have a view that made me so angry. I wasn’t at all sure how to deal with it, and, frankly, I didn’t want to.
Fortunately for me, I had a conversation with my grandpa about gun control laws soon after and found out we actually do share the same views. Finding we agreed, though, made me think more about something I’ve been struggling with for a really long time.
I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in environment like HB, where I’ve been able to become educated about and aware of the world around me. I’ve realized how much privilege I have and how much I take for granted. One of these things is the presence of diversity in our community. While we are far from it truly being enough, the HB students (shoutout to SWAG, the BCA, and Spectrum you are awesome) are constantly inspiring me by making our community more open and accepting to everyone.
But there’s still a major oversight here. For although we have strong voices from a myriad of racial and socioeconomic voices, a lot of times these voices are all fighting for the same thing. And while it humbles me to see my classmates creating so much change, it also makes it apparent that we are lacking another kind of diversity: the diversity of opinions and thoughts.
Here’s the point to this long and probably unnecessary opening: I find it so hard to want this kind of diversity, especially now. I don’t want to hang out with people who support the NRA or don’t think gun control is an issue. In my head, the only way logical way I can imagine these conversations ending is with my opposer realizing how ignorant they are and changing their mind. This only shows my own naïveté— and highlights one of the most important problems I think exists in our community.
Here’s the thing. If you took a group of people from a bunch of different backgrounds and races, who were different genders and had different sexual orientations and different jobs and personalities, but they all more or less had the same opinions on gun control, and then you told them to talk about gun control, it would hardly be a diverse conversation. Appearance-wise: yes, it’s a diverse group of people. And I’m sure that on many other levels the conversation would be as vibrant and multilayered as the people themselves. But as diverse as the group appears to be, without any diversity of thought we can’t make progress. All we can do is polarize our communities more. This is why, although I absolutely love being surrounded by people who are passionate about my views and opinions, I know in the back of my mind this is not the way to make change.
I know I can’t truly contribute to the fight against gun violence without talking with or trying to understand people on the other side of the issue. Which means that I have to break down my own prejudices about these issues, so I can listening openly to what, right now, I can’t comprehend. And this is on a broader level than just gun control— this is important for every issue and every fight that we will have to face in the future.
I know it’s hard. It’s impossible for me, and I’ve been struggling with this for years. But this is why I encourage everyone— especially the majority-opinion-holders at HB— to pause for a moment and rethink what kind of diversity you’ve been accepting up until now. Stop casting off opinions that make you angry or disgusted, and instead surround yourself with them. Try to understand them. Because only then we can make the most change.