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The Voices of Lakeland

In today’s highly divisive political environment, simply being able to have a civil exchange between people of differing opinions seems to be a nearly insuperable task. Whether it’s because of the dogmatism of individuals or whether it’s because of the nearly impenetrable echo-chambers largely fabricated and enabled by social media, people today are less willing to and less able to have open-ended discussions about important subjects. This alarming cultural trend ought to be concerning to all of us, as the greatest tool we have to further progress in our federalist republic is the tool of conversation. The simple act of just talking to, and actively listening to, your neighbor can help all of us to reach a common ground on vitally important topics while also reminding all of us of our collective humanity.

While this may be a national problem, the solution starts at home. Hence why we have pledged to think globally, but act locally. The mission of Swan Forums is to work diligently with local business leaders & owners, education leaders, community leaders and government officials for the expressed purpose of providing accessible platforms, or stages, for which the citizens of Lakeland, Florida can observe and participate in the civil discussion and or debate of controversial issues and campaigns; all while having the opportunity to be properly exposed to all the sides of the political spectrum. Additionally, Swan Forums has partnered with local charitable organizations in order to bring light to important issues - while also helping to raise money for their respective missions. By providing these platforms for important conversations, and by using such stages to promote local charities, Swan Forums hopes to elevate community discourse while simultaneously helping to improve the lot of society through the advocacy and advancement of philanthropic causes in the great City of Lakeland.

In service of this noble goal, we at Swan Forums elected to host a community blog where local writers could share their contrasting views on a myriad of topics. The Voices of Lakeland blog is unlike many of the platforms you will come across in our wonderful city. Precisely because there is no political or ideological agenda associated with it. It truly is a collection of politically, and philosophically, diverse local talent voicing their opinions on a plethora of issues. And through this valuable resource you will have the opportunity to be properly exposed to a variety of views from across the political spectrum, absent of filters and a biased narrative.

I sincerely hope you find the content on this blog to be, not only interesting but also, insightful. It would be suffice to say that my ambition for this platform is for it to ultimately spark engagement between you and your peers, while also providing you with opposition to your own beliefs. If resistance training helps to grow muscle, then surely resistance training on the brain will sharpen the mind. We as an organization hold this axiom of intellectualism to be undeniably self-evident, as it has been since the days of Socrates and Aristotle. All that we ask is that you acknowledge that most people do not reach their unique conclusions with the expressed goal of being unethical. Everyone believes themselves to be the hero of their story - most people genuinely have the best intentions at heart. Hence it ought to be possible to have deep disagreements over difficult topics because, at the end of the day, we really all are on the same team.

With that said, I welcome you to The Voices of Lakeland community blog. If you find the content here to be of your liking, we humbly ask that you support not only our organization but also our writers by sharing their work and our blog with your family, friends and neighbors. Together we will ignite an intellectual awakening in our city and together we will build a city-wide culture that leaves little room for wilful ignorance, bigotry and dogmatism.


AJ Rodriguez

President & Founder of Swan Forums Inc.

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