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Politics and Activism

Stop Being Scared To Stand Up For What You Believe In And 'Just Do It'

We focus more on harboring irrational anger towards those we've never even met, and dragging down any supporters that may cross our paths than we do on volunteering and helping those around us.

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As I was returning from a study session on a Thursday night, someone yelled at me in passing. "You should burn that hat," they said. "Get rid of Nike!"

My light blue cap stood out among the dark sky, the white Nike swoosh nearly glowing.

Confused, I imagined it was just another guy being creepy, as guys yelling on the street often are, and I brushed off the comment.

Honestly, when you're a female on a college campus, you stop internalizing loud comments from strange men. But curious as I was, I entered "Nike Scandal," into my search bar as soon as I got home.

Due to my disconnect from the cable television world and my lack of free time for scoping out every current event on the world wide web, I had missed the headlines detailing Nike's disputed choice to feature Colin Kaepernick, the controversial quarterback, as the headliner of a new advertisement.

Upon the realization that someone yelled at me to burn my hat because they were fed up with Kaepernick's actions, my mind flashed back to last football season.

I heard far too much about the "disgrace," towards our country shown by some of football's elite. My favorite pastime, littered with uncomfortable arguments every Sunday, Monday, and Thursday.

I didn't disagree with players using their fame for social justice, but I didn't enjoy the sweat that would inevitably start dripping from my face when I was asked for my opinion.

Players kneeling during the national anthem?

I thought, "Another example of the freedom of speech we possess as citizens of this diverse country."

Others thought "A deliberate display of disrespect towards our troops and everything they fought tooth and nail for."

And so it went. Many agreed to disagree, some boycotted the NFL as a whole, some told athletes to stick to their sports and step out of the political arena, while simultaneously spilling chips and salsa on the decade-old computers they used to try and wade in the waters of said arena.

And many of us watched as mud was slung and stands were taken, metaphorically of course, as this stand, in particular, was instead a kneel.

Where you fell on the issue determined your entire ideology. Or at least that's how the loud extremists made it seem for the better half of a year.

I always liked to believe that my stance on one issue alone was nowhere near enough to label where on the political spectrum I fell. But loud voices crowded out my beliefs, and young and confused, I wondered how we ever accomplish anything if we're always yelling at each other.

Those loud voices are shouting once again, only this time at those donning a company that supports social activism.

I'm asking you not to join those shouts, but to instead activate your mindset and stand for whatever it is you believe in.

We focus far too often on tossing out insults and bashing what we disagree with, yet we immediately become timid when asked to take our own stand.

We focus more on harboring irrational anger towards those we've never even met and dragging down any supporters that may cross our paths than we do on volunteering and helping those around us.

We don't peacefully step up to the plate and fight for a cause.

Personally, I can't say exactly where I fall on the anthem debate.

I can say I respect the concept that allows us as citizens to show our feelings in ways that may speak instantly to millions, as long as such actions refrain from harming others.

I can say that in my mind, it is not the sole piece of fabric that the soldiers fought for. What I believe they risked their entire livelihoods for is that concept of a free America.

I can also say that I personally will always stand during the National Anthem as a sign of respect for those that did risk their lives, and I appreciate when others do the same.

But I won't dive into the nitty gritty details of my personal opinions.

I will urge you instead to readjust your point of view.

The next time you catch yourself yelling at a girl walking home from her studies, wearing a Nike hat, (not that you would ever do that, but for example) you ask yourself a few questions.

What have I done to positively speak up for what I believe in?

What have I done to positively impact others today?

Do I stand for a cause or do I simply sit around with my sledgehammer, waiting for an opponent to prove their passion so I can ruthlessly knock them down.

Am I actually an active citizen?

Or am I an active social media annoyance?

Have I educated myself extensively on the issue before I've opened my mouth?

Am I speaking in an educated manner when I would like to debate the topic at hand?

Or am I immaturely throwing around heated insults, and then turning around and committing my own sins behind the backs of my opposition?

Every time a topic of the like makes its way into the media, I think to myself, "How many people will actually try to change what they don't like in this world?"

"How many people will just get uptight and pretentious in efforts directed at getting a rise out of others?"

Because working up others after personally attacking them never seems to convince people to switch sides on an issue. So with this social debate, and other social topics, challenge yourself to be more than a voice of negativity.

Say what you want, but my Nike stays on.

Speak up, speak out, speak loud, but don't just speak.

Speak positively and most importantly act.

In the wise words of a company I frequently purchase products from, "Just do it."

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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