John Kasich Event
I enjoyed seeing John Kasich speak at Davidson, and I thought moderated discussion and student questions section was especially interesting. The questions prompted some good discussion and forced the speakers to touch on important issues without avoiding them. However, I thought Kasich’s monologue was very cliché, and it offered a pretty dull message. I do not believe it was worth the $40,000 the school paid to have him speak. Kasich discussed the idea that “politics doesn’t matter as much” as work done outside the realm of politics to help people. This political fatalism was not only unhelpful but also worrying, because politics is the system set out to make a legal change. Politics has large amounts of power despite its potential to use it negatively, and I felt his message was really unproductive. Additionally, it is disheartening for a crowd of motivated college students, who are told it is their job to solve the future, to hear that politics is a waste of time. His monologue was solely based on the stories of individual people who wanted to make a change, with the idealistic message that “anyone can do anything they set their mind too.” While this makes us feel all warm and fuzzy when we are hearing it, we all know that individual acts of kindness alone cannot change the world, and the political system needs to reflect the interests of people who want to make the world better. This was an event that was definitely worth going to, but I left feeling a little disappointed after hearing what was little more than a generic motivational speech.
Bryan Stevenson Event
Bryan Stevenson’s message was much more accessible than Kasich’s. Stevenson and Kasich were both concerned with the ways in which we can change the world for better. However, Stevenson rooted his theory in actions that, although hard to put into practice, are easily accessible. Stevenson isolated four specific changes that we need to make in order to make the world a better place.
- Be proximate
- Change narratives
- Remain hopeful
- Get uncomfortable
Obviously these four steps are a lot more accessible than the examples Kasich introduced of individuals creating change. However, I would argue they are just as difficult to achieve because they require us to exit our comfort zone, and it takes consistent repetition of these steps, its not a one time deal. What is so amazing about these guidelines is that, unlike Kasich’s advice, these steps move towards removing the root causes of these systemic problems instead of alleviating the pain. Referring back to my definition of revolution, these steps hope to shift the paradigm instead of pushing the current paradigm past the anomaly.
Connecting this back to my theme, Stevenson advocates for changing the narrative as a method of creating a more beautiful world. By changing the stories that are told and becoming proximate to both learn new stories and create new ones, as Stevenson has done in his book, we can create beauty in the world. These three principles are intimately connected, and changing the stories that are told is how we will address the root causes of this world’s problems and create beauty in the world. Stevenson has done it with the stories that he has published, changing people’s images through literature and inspiring us all to create beauty.