Topic 1: The merits of extremism
Question- Can we have effective change if there aren’t people with extreme passion to push for it? On average, people typically act as bystanders and aren’t willing to do almost anything without clear leaders; how can we attack these people for fulfilling a very real need? Should people with extreme views and opinions be shunned or silenced in favor of moderates?
Motivation– Often people find it easy to attack extremists, on both sides of the political spectrum. They claim that these extremists ruin debates and discussions, that we need more moderates capable of compromise. But without extremists there is no debate, there is no discussion. Without clear leaders, without people passionate enough to make change, people will not change on their own. While people should be able to see things through the eyes of others, stalwart activism, diligent action taken to push the envelope moves forward.
Arguments– Looking at the role of extremists in activism and how movements are shaped by the members at the forefront. I want to argue that extremists bring publicity to issues, they mobilize bystanders, and they enable debating. People with ideologies within the normal range may discuss, but they can never garner enough attention or momentum to affect real change.
Topic 2: Use of Military Action
Question- How can we use decisive military action to protect the citizens of the world? To what extent can we debate the necessity of action while innocent non-combatants die? As a global community, can we respect the sovereign borders of nations that commit atrocities or global crimes?
Motivation– War is an instrument of national policy which uses violence to affect change. Without a global power to ensure the safety of everyone in the worldwide community, tyrannical leaders and dictators can run amok. America, being able to spend twice the GDP of Tuvalu in under 10 minutes to send a warning message to President Assad, has a duty to protect those who are attacked by ineffectual and malignant governments. I am motivated by this topic because I see how those in the military perceive global conflict and their duty to protect the world.
Arguments- Often people argue that America should “stick to itself” and not be the world police. I disagree. I would argue that America creates massive ripples in the world economy when the president tweets. We are responsible for massive impacts on the world economically and politically. Because of this we should be, and in fact are, responsible for policing the world and for ensuring the safety of others.
Topic 3: Sustainability and anti-consumerism
Question- To what extent can we continue to support an environmental movement that promotes continually purchasing newer and “greener” technology? Are people just buying into pop-environmentalism (Tesla, Solar panels, organic farms) that is more dangerous to the environment? Is it enough that people are changing their minds about environmental sustainability?
Motivation– Often people try to be sustainable or be environmentally friendly in comfortable ways. They buy a Tesla with lithium batteries that run on coal, instead of gasoline. They buy produce from USDA organic farms that are monocultural and treated with nondegenerative pesticides. While people might possess a mindset moving in the right direction, they still cling to all their industrial era comforts. They lie to themselves and say “no look at all the Earth Day stickers I have on my 2016 Prius! I buy a new one every year!” They fail to see that the real issue is consumerism and an inability to sacrifice modern comforts.
Arguments- The threat to the environment isn’t simply “We use gasoline and gas” it is culturally generated. A focus on consumerism produces waste no matter how environmentally minded the buyer is, what we need is not more green technology, we need a cultural shift away from having more things and bigger houses.