Self-Awareness Promotes ‘Important Dialogue’ on Cultivating Difference

On college campuses, the average student’s opinion of Donald Trump is not very positive, since most people tend to think of him as an egotistical man without any respect for other people’s identities and cultures. He is often caught with his foot in his mouth, making statements without prior consideration or compassion for those who he is belittling. This is the case when he talks about immigrants in America, when most of us, not including Native Americans or black people, are descendants of immigrants.

Much of Trump’s vitriol comes from a lack of self-awareness, and a lack of concern for people outside his own life. He does not ever consider that he is a person whose ancestors were once immigrants to this country. He is not self-aware, but that does not excuse his behavior. While Trump is outwardly horrible and more awful than most, he is not the only one who suffers from a lack of self-awareness — we all do, this country does.

For example, take how we dress: on a college campus, wearing sweatpants is fine because this is a social atmosphere that allows for that kind of outward expression. However, once we leave this community and enter the public sphere, common sense and society will tell us that looking this way is no longer acceptable. We will need to change the way we present ourselves for our professional benefit. 

Also, consider social media, where many people turn to discuss issues ranging from politics to exercise and everything in between. How many anonymous comments go to people around the world, laced with hatred that average people would not otherwise say? It almost seems as though a glass screen is viewed as the separation from the world in which the most uncivilized behavior is acceptable.

Philosopher and public speaker Jason Silva once said, “Look at the evidence and to be willing to question your own truths, and to be willing to scrutinize things that you hold dearly because that way, that transparency, that self-awareness, will protect you from ever becoming somebody whose beliefs somehow make them have myopic vision about what could be.”

Self-awareness is not all-encompassing and will not change the entire way the world works. But it promotes important dialogue that could change the world in a major way. Being self-aware — recognizing where we stand in relation to the world and those around us — may not be easy for us in a western culture that focuses on the needs of the individual rather than how the community might react, which is more common in other parts of the world.

The important thing to remember is when and how to make change for yourself and what that would do for the average person. This would involve taking people of every group as individuals with individual motives, ideas — not looking at people with particular interests as having certain traits. This would mean looking at oneself in comparison to others based on their actions rather than their appearance or lifestyle. It could mean not judging people simply by what you gather from them on a first impression. 

In the end, people on every side of the aisle, in every race, religion or gender have an opportunity to realize the importance of self-awareness.

Simply suggesting an action and not realizing that you need improvements is an important part of self-awareness. Being a student at college, I realize just how little I know and how simply admitting it will not change that fact. But in an effort to make a change in your community, you must start the conversation and hope that the dialogue grows from there.