Thoughts on Bailey Oratorical
Well I’ll start off by saying that there was an overwhelmingly pessimistic tone present throughout the oratorical. I guess it speaks to how eventful 2020 was and how it kind of incited anger in a lot of us. The oratorical made me think a lot about the political divide in our nation, even if that wasn’t the intention of all the speakers. A lot of the topics the students brought up were objectively very polarizing. I’ve considered myself a liberal for most of my teenage years, but more recently I’ve tried to take a centrist perspective on things. It’s not that I don’t agree with the issues they highlighted, but it almost feels like they were giving…campaign rhetoric or something like that, just in the manner of their approach. I think the last speaker had the least anger driven speech. At least, of the parts of each speech that I can remember, his piece seemed to have a more reconciliatory tone. I think he was advising us not to be too quick to form negative judgements about people. Anyway, I’m going to say that the oratorical was good on the whole. Maybe there just could have been more diversity in viewpoints? One of the most important things that I’ve been learning about in my Social Media class is that people ought to be exposed to different ideas that push them out of their comfort zones. When people have the power to choose what information they receive, they generally stick to information sources and social media networks that reinforce beliefs they already have. In light of this greater cultural background, one could argue that educational institutions like ours have an obligation towards promoting the big picture by giving different viewpoints the voice they deserve. At the same time I get why that couldn’t really be done here, because with much of the right-wing dialogue that’s been thrown around in the public discourse recently, it just isn’t productive for us to hear it. There’s a lot of disconnect between those talking points and objective reality. I imagine there are a lot of students in Juniata, actually, who could bring some moderate viewpoints to the table, but we seem to have a way of selecting more outspoken speakers.
With regard to the individual orations, I think the one I liked the most was actually probably the first one, which was about the environment and how hard it’s been hitting back at us over the last several months. I had heard the news about the wildfires in California and the power outages in Texas prior to the oration. I had also heard some stuff about how our destruction of forests and other areas was bringing us into closer contact with animals and that was in turn increasing the risk of cross-species viral transmission (I don’t remember how much that particular fact was emphasized, or even if that was brought up at all). So I was familiar with those individual talking points already, and I was familiar with the fact that environmental fallout costs our country billions of dollars each year, but I didn’t necessarily think to take a step back to see how altogether it creates a picture of the current state of mother nature that no one can deny. Well, I say that, but obviously many people still are denying it. Its frustrating to me because last semester, in my Intro to International Politics class, it was emphasized that few major political parties in the world at large still cling to climate change denialism, making the Republican Party over here something of an outlier. In the wider world, many conservative groups even consider measures against climate change to be a high priority. But like one of my friends said, in America, it’s the moderate conservative that doesn’t seem to fully resonate with the dire threat of climate change. It was cool to hear someone else addressing environmental stuff that I had kind of been picking up on now and then. The fact that it was largely new environmental concerns being addressed managed to make it sound not as cliche as the usual stuff about our planet overheating and the ice caps melting and such.
Right, so that about raps up my thoughts on the Bailey Oratorical. I know I sounded like I was complaining a lot but I did think it was okay overall. I think it goes to show that the tone of the event and probably other events like it that we also do here can depend a lot on societal circumstances. It might be that the tone of the next oratorical will be different, if the social unrest that’s dominated much of the last several months settles down. I don’t want people to lose cite of the importance of the social and political issues we were forced to confront in 2020, I guess I just want us to be able to maintain a positive outlook.