The mapping of our country’s future doesn’t begin at the ballot box. Rather, the seeds we need to secure the future of our republic take root in classrooms — elementary, middle and high schools. But in the classrooms on college campuses, nourishing those seeds has become an outright battle.

Common sense would say we’d support providing our youth with factual curriculum, which not only allows but encourages, open debate. Further, that debate would welcome differing positions, inviting those with alternate points of view to participate. After all, wouldn’t common sense also advocate that the more our children know, the more information they gather and weigh, the better able they will be to make realistic and sensible decisions?

One would think so. But current reality seems to disagree. Numerous college campuses do not welcome differing views. In fact, they stand strongly against any such debate or dialogue. They boldly block attempts for public sharing of ideas or information that even hint at an iota of thought that differs from theirs.

As an example, consider Young America’s Foundation hosting a successful campus lecture by Dinesh D’Souza at a Florida university last year. After the event they reported that shortly after they hosted Dinesh D’Souza on campus, administrators changed university policy “so that the YAF students could no longer obtain university funding to bring conservative speakers.”

Fortunately, the YAF chapter at the university fought back. Their efforts resulted in the following. The university agreed to “change its policy so that all student groups, including the YAF chapter, will have equal access to university funding,” and they also agreed to “pay $66,000 in damages to the YAF chapter.”

Still, similar freedom of speech violations continue across our country. Fortunately, more people are speaking out in support of both sides being afforded the opportunity to speak without being silenced. This, in turn, highlights that the issue isn’t which side is silenced and which is not; it’s that the respectful expression of ideas by neither should be silenced.

As for those now-blooming seeds in campus classrooms — our yet-to-be doctors, educators, scientists, engineers, ranchers, musicians and more? Our future will be better served if all of us listen — not shout down, not intimidate, not bully, not assault, but truly listen — to one another. Being more informed about various ideas and points of view is a good thing, so when we do head to the ballot box, we will feed it with balanced wisdom.

Millie Anderson is a Sebring resident. Guest columns are the opinion of the writer, not necessarily that of the Highlands News-Sun.

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