Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Week Two - Political Radicalism Or Blindly Following the Leader?

Yesterday marked the first day of modules in my semester abroad in Northern Ireland. I was expecting that my module entitled "Writing the North: Literature of the Troubles" may entail some discussion on political ideals and opinions. What I was not expecting walking into my Contemporary British Fiction class was seeing a slide show of politically racy photographs of issues in the UK on which our lecturer had no problem forcefully stating his opinion. Though I agreed with him on a few points, some of the discussion was too open for me, even for someone like myself who may not have correct - or even sufficient an amount of - information on some of the topics which to me were foreign (like, say, the policies instated by Margaret Thatcher, as well as her death). That was good and well as the other local NI students didn't seem to be too offended by the lecturer's stances.

However, what most made me fidget in my seat was when he pulled up a slide of the burning of the twin towers during 9/11. He started getting into discussion about the United States, bringing up his opinion on religion and violence. This also is well and good; perhaps the point of his entire lesson plan was to show what in the world shouldn't mix. However, next he spoke of George Bush Jr. and Sr., saying he'd celebrate in America the day they died, the way he did in Belfast upon the death of Margaret Thatcher.

I never really expected I'd be grateful for the fact that our teachers in America are not allowed to speak of their religion or views. I anticipated coming across a few debates on the division of Northern Ireland/Ireland/UK and the confusing hybrid that the Troubles has issued on the island since '69, but never had I thought the issue would blatantly resonate in my coursework (as the same undertone of political unrest laced the lecture in my earlier Modern Irish History class).

On a more positive note, it's definitely refreshing to be in a society which wholly engages itself in knowledge of its rights and the policies its governor has placed on it. Truthfully, many of my peers at home don't care about America's current political situation. Maybe they've heard of Syria and know America is planning on doing something about them, but generally the knowledge of the U.S.'s governance is blissfully ignored in the minds of American students.

Though I disagreed with my lecturer's political radicalism, at least it made me want to be a more informed citizen of the United States. No matter what society one lives in, no one should blindly follow his or her leader.

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