Recently, I have had several conversations with my friends back in Taiwan. A common thread of discussion is how hopeless they feel about social conditions getting better.
Since the recent presidential election that resulted in the first female president in the country’s history, there have been a wave of euphoria. A large majority of the population, especially millennials, felt that the fall of the KMT was key to social change in Taiwan.
Yet the problems that face Taiwan, especially those of my generation, are complex and difficult to untangle and dissect. One thing that we all agreed on is the fact that many people are unable to think for themselves. Many young people comment and criticize based on misinformation or a lack of independent thought. Part of the issue is how the media presents information and part of the issue is how people consume media in Taiwan. Though media consumption is not a unique problem to Taiwan, the culture of Taiwan tend to cause people to disregard and dismiss opposing opinions and voices.
I feel like education is the best way to tackle these problems, but not through formal education. The current education system in Taiwan has been broken for awhile now, having gone through several reforms in the last five to ten years. Young people need to be able to calmly and rationally discuss problems without clouded by bias and judgement. Young people need to be able to independently find information and assess the quality of that information. These skills are typically acquired during college, but not every college and university provide that quality of thought.
Instead of complaining about how change is impossible, why don’t we start reaching out and starting conversations with one another. We should start conversations with people who have different worldviews and perspectives. We should start conversations with people who have different political ideologies. Of course, we need to start by educating ourselves on how to communicate, how to think, and how to evaluate. Is it possible to completely eliminate bias? Probably not, but we need to try. There are always going to be people who will never be able to communicate. There are always going to be people who are unwilling or unable to compromise or see the other side. Yet, enough of us can do it, I believe we can make a difference.
Social change can only occur when we communicate and compromise.
Perhaps we have forgotten how as a society, but it’s never too late to learn again.