Why We Should Be Investing In AmeriCorps

Why We Should Be Investing In AmeriCorps

President Trump is looking to appropriate AmeriCorps' funds for military expansion.

Graduation Day I remember the most diverse crowd of young people I had ever seen. Hands in the air and confidence in their voices saying, “I will get things done for America - to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier. I will bring Americans together to strengthen our communities. Faced with apathy, I will take action. Faced with conflict, I will seek common ground. Faced with adversity, I will persevere. I will carry this commitment with me this year and beyond. I am an AmeriCorps member, and I will get things done”.

I always felt like I had joined a mindless cult or some sort of kid’s summer camp when we were told to throw up our hands, as if we were all about to start simultaneously princess waving, and read this mantra off a computer screen.

It was not until my final day as an AmeriCorps Member that I understood the significance of the AmeriCorps Pledge. We started out as 300 misfits, unsure what we had all signed up for and walked off a stage ten months later as a unit with pride, purpose and an understanding of our place in this world.

There are some things in life that you cannot put a price tag on. The feeling of a job well done, pride in oneself, the sense of responsibility and the indescribable feeling that fills your body knowing that you helped another person. And the opportunities for young people to experience those feelings? Priceless.

I am sure many already know, as bad news travels fast these days, that President Trump’s latest in his seemingly never ending changes is a list of programs to cut in order to lessen domestic spending. Of the valuable programs on the list was the Corporation for National and Community Service, which is the Federal Agency in charge of AmeriCorps.

I cannot help but see the irony. The irony in taking money from peaceful initiatives fighting the good fight here on American soil and appropriating it for military expansion. I would rather spend money equipping young people with gardening tools than with guns.

Service is service. It is noble and selfless no matter what equipment you carry or whether your life is on the line or not. As a country, if we truly want to be "great again" then we have to understand that one form of service is not more crucial than another.

It is irresponsible to take money from AmeriCorps programs to expand the military. You are essentially saying to other countries and the citizens of this one that taking care of our people and conserving our land’s resources is secondary to the need to defend ourselves and strengthen our borders.

I have wondered what Trump meant by, “Make America great again”. Like any country we have a history of taking what is not ours and oppressing groups of people. What comes to mind when I hear the word “great” is the Greatest Generation. The generation before my parents, the generation that lived, and didn’t live, through World War II. A generation of Rosie the Riveters and soldiers.

Women were in the States rolling up their sleeves and doing what so many thought was impossible. They were building and flying planes, manufacturing bombs, sewing uniforms and whatever they needed to in order help in the war effort. The WWII generation was great because everyone was involved in the cause, the cause of making this country great.

While the Greatest Generation were involved in a war effort, bringing victory to the United States, I believe that if everyone of this generation is to be involved again, we can be a generation greater. Today the war effort is different, it is overseas and it is here at home. We are in combat, but we also have wars on climate change, poverty and illiteracy. And who do we want fighting those battles? Young people. And how can they do that? Programs like AmeriCorps.

These young people, who are a part of the largest demographic this country has, are willing and motivated to dedicate not only their time, but their lives to the betterment of this country. They are registering survivors of natural disasters, building houses, planting trees and working hard at the jobs that no one else wants to do. These are able and willing young people and they may not be out there toting guns, but they’re right here at home making a difference, peacefully.

So, my question has been and will continue to be: aren’t young people worth the investment? Especially young people willing to serve their country right here, in an equally selfless way?

Invest in strengthening national and community service. Invest in the future of this country. Invest in the United States. Let’s set the bar higher and surpass the Greatest Generation.

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No, Your Political Views Aren't Always Wrong, They Just Aren't Always Right

"No one is as deaf as the man who will not listen." - Proverb

Violence. It is inevitable. Whether it is verbal or it is physical, it is happening around the world every day and it is a very sensitive subject. Something absolutely devastating happens and all of the sudden politicians are being questioned and those who aren't politicians, but think that they are, are now ranting on Facebook swearing up and down the walls that they are right and everyone else is wrong.

After the shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, I was at a loss for words. For an incident this serious to happen in what felt like my backyard was absolutely terrifying. To live in a world where this happened was absolutely terrifying. As families and friends of victims and survivors grieved on social media and on TV, people took no breath in expressing their feelings about the incident. From angry messages about the LGTBQ community and to the complete opposite side where those mourned for the LGBTQ community, arguments were all over Facebook. Opinions were all over Facebook, as they always are.

With the recent Las Vegas shooting the same thing was seen on social media as some felt strongly about the mental health of Americans and others cared deeply about those who were killed and what was going to happen next. Social media is home to many different political views as well as social views and the biggest issue, in my opinion, is that no one allows the opportunity for someone else to speak their mind.

Most importantly in my life right now, as well as the lives of many who surround me, is the Parkland shooting. This was absolutely horrifying, to say the least. It showed how unfair life was and how screwed up people can be.

Unfortunately, I have found on social media as well as on TV that people have lost sight of what truly matters right now as they are too worried arguing about their political views and making the statement that only their thoughts are correct.

Being a very open-minded person, I have read through hundreds of comments and watched my fair share of videos. I have heard Republicans and Democrats speak on the matter on gun control, gun safety, and guns in school.

Yes, I believe in the Second Amendment. I believe it is a right to carry a gun with the appropriate training and paperwork. Yes, I also believe that it has become way too easy to obtain such a powerful weapon.

Lastly, I believe that it is not the ease of buying guns or the Second Amendment itself that is leading to these terrifying events. It's the people of the United States and the way that they are raised today.

As Governor Matt Bevin said when he was younger, kids brought guns to school on a day to day basis and even more around the holidays to show off their new presents. People simply did not think about killing people. People were not terrified for their lives when they went to school or to a country concert.

Yes, you're allowed to have your own political opinions.

Yes, you can plaster your views and arguments all over Facebook and other social media platforms.

But stop and take a second to think about others views as well. Think about simpler times when your life didn't revolve around a video game or your cell phone or the latest violent movie that just came out.

When things were "simpler," there were not constant shootings at schools and out in public places.

Guns are not the problem. Do not be ignorant.

Realize that you can have your views but they may not always be right.

Cover Image Credit: Alex Radelich

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Let's Take The Politics Out Of School Shootings

So, please do not use school shootings as a reason to get in a Facebook fight.

The American dream is to send our beloved children off to school where they can flourish and learn. On the other hand, an important aspect of the American dream is the second amendment.

How shall we move forward so these two aspects of the American dream can coexist?

The answer to that question will not be discovered in my lifetime (or maybe ever). There is no way to save an entire country from horrific events like ones we have seen too many times. So, let’s stop focusing on which is the “correct” way to handle the situation and look at the broader perspective.

This week, social media is flooded with a variety of political opinions after the Florida school shooting that I would rather not explore. I am sure everyone is familiar with the different opinions that unveil after a mass shooting.

Unfortunately, we are too familiar with them.

I am a senior in high school who is hardly involved with politics. Putting political beliefs aside, I focus on the victims’ faces and names. I focus on their families. I focus on a school that will never feel the same.

The kids who passed were not thinking about politics during this tragedy. Rather, they were wondering if they would make it out of a place they considered safe, alive.

This issue is much bigger than a political debate. It is about hate in our world, a lack of love and a disconnect between ourselves and others. It’s not about guns. It’s not about mental illness. It’s about much more.

Rather than pointing the finger, we can all equally share the blame.

When social media turns an issue into a political debate, it’s easy to forget that children aren’t thinking about politics when they see their teacher, coach or friend pass away in front of their eyes.

So please, do us all a favor and don’t use children's dead bodies as a reason to get into a heated Facebook fight. That only spreads the hate. It is counterproductive. Rather than plotting against each other, we need to band together.

Cover Image Credit: Pixbay

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