OK, I'll admit it and say that there was a time where I was one of these people. Not too long ago, I would say things like, "I don't care about politics" or, "Politics are stupid." Of course, I knew enough to know whose views were aligned with mine and always felt that it was important to vote, and I am thankful I've had parents who taught me those values. Despite this, I rarely paid attention to the news and virtually tuned out every conversation my family would have about politics. I thought it was annoying, stupid, and didn't apply to me whatsoever.
However, in the last few months, I've done a lot of educating, growing, and luckily now hold a much different opinion.
It's no secret that the last six months or so have been one of the most difficult and taxing experiences for many Americans. COVID-19 has done a lot of terrible things to people and has drastically altered much of our lives. For me personally, this was a huge wake-up call. It made me realize there is so much going on in the world around me and the best way for me to make a difference is to stay informed. It also made me realize that politics matter. Decisions are being made every day and while it may not seem like it, they do affect me and they affect you too.
Most of you know that while away in college it is very easy to feel as though you're in a bubble and know much of nothing going on in the outside world, and I have definitely fallen victim to that. Yet in the last few months or so, I have made a lot of changes. Slowly, I began to pay attention. I actually watched the news when my parents were watching it rather than using it as background noise. I started following accounts on social media that informed me further about issues that I had little to no knowledge about. In doing so, I have learned a lot and feel much more confident in my ability to understand what is happening around me.
I'm not going to lie, writing and sharing this article is extremely nerve-wracking and it's very out of my comfort zone.
However, this is something I feel obligated to do with everything going on. I feel like in the past there's sort of been a stigma with people my age surrounding politics where people think it's the "cool" thing to pretend you don't care. I do think that there has been somewhat of a shift recently where people are becoming more comfortable sharing their opinions and standing up for what they feel is right, and that really makes me happy. I am thankful that there are so many young people like me that seem like they are trying to do better, I know that there are many other people who are not doing the same, let alone aren't even planning on voting. This is extremely disappointing and quite frankly shows me that you are privileged.
I'm not going to pretend that I am well versed in every single political issue now.
There is plenty of educating that I still need to do and I promise to continue to do better. But I am grateful that I got over myself and started caring. Because frankly, anyone who is not paying attention to all of the crazy shit happening around us right now is, in my opinion, pretty ignorant. I know that's harsh, but it's frustrating and makes me question a lot of things. Now that I am in college and am growing up, I've learned that it's more important than ever to be your own advocate and stand up for the people and the things you believe in most because no one else is going to do it for you. And unfortunately, the same goes for many of the political issues that polarize our country today. As the cliché saying goes, nothing changes if nothing changes, so it's time we take matters into our own hands and stand up for what is right.
I am not telling you all to just go out and run for office or something, or that you need to blast all your opinions all over social media. But at the very least I encourage you all to do something — whether that is tuning in to the next presidential debate, scrolling through the news, listening to a podcast, or simply having a conversation with those around you. There are so many important things going on in the world right now, some issues that may feel more important to you than others. But ultimately, our own differences and unique passions are what makes the world so special. I urge you all to find out what that one thing is and do something about it. Of course, I feel sad that it took a pandemic for me to realize just how important politics is, but I am glad that it's not too late for me to make a difference.
Oh, and maybe go out and vote (and make a plan to do so).