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  • Carroll Devine

A Safe Space

"Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood." --Marie Curie

"Safe spaces" cannot be found in cloisters where the sunlight and fresh air of new thought or challenges of dissenting opinions, or views that cause discomfort, are not allowed in. Those places, with bars on every portal, are prisons for the mind and spirit. Those whose beliefs cannot bear the scrutiny of challenge are shackled, not safe. Nor are those whose too fragile psyches cause them to whine and throw tantrums and claim victimhood because they mistake others’ right to free speech as personal attacks.

Only young children and the mentally impaired should be protected from the natural incursion of differing views and opinions. The rest of us need to grow up. The activities of students and other occupants of some college campuses today bring to my mind visions of children closing their eyes, sticking their fingers in their ears and screaming loudly to a disagreeable or disagreeing schoolmate, “I can’t hear you!”

Universities were founded as a means to higher learning, enlightenment through academic inquiry, not as enablers of lower following. They were places that engendered creativity, invention, discovery, leadership, and statesmanship. Today, they are becoming places where honest discourse on many topics important to our lives is censored – discouraged, if not banned altogether.

If safe spaces do exist, they can only be found deep within each of us where Truth resides – the Truth that cannot be shaken by surrounding clamor and chaos. Residing in this place, it is not necessary, or is it often even possible, to eliminate the commotion or cacophony of voices or banners of difference. In this – our only real “safe space” – we can listen to, question and evaluate what we hear, then from this place of wisdom we can reject it, incorporate it into our views, or possibly replace an old view entirely. But to simply shout down or shut down others' voices because of fear or ignorance is tyrannical and benefits no one.

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