It should come as no surprise to anyone that I’m a liberal. I think and write and act like a peace-loving hippie. I have been called that more times than I can count – in jest, and in admiration, and sometimes as an intended insult, though it’s never hurt me. I am not an expert on politics, but I care enough to try to stay educated and involved.
I vote democrat. I disagree with the republican stance on almost every subject. I am often disheartened and angry and scared about the views from the other side. But what is far more disheartening and infuriating and scary for me are those who choose ambivalence. And on the internet and in the real world, I keep coming across the phrase “I’m not really into politics,” and I want to say “well, why aren’t you?”
Because what that sentence is really saying is “I don’t care.” And that’s dangerous. That makes me more nervous than the views I so strongly disagree with. For hundreds of years people fought and died and risked literally everything for your right to be involved in your country’s politics. And you’re choosing to throw that away. You’re choosing to make the statement that none of that mattered, that none of it was worth it. And you’re wrong. That is wrong.
Of course, right and wrong are subjective. That’s the basis of political discourse. It is your right as a citizen of this country to believe what you want to believe. But for most of us, we didn’t earn that right. Those who came before us earned it, by believing in things and by using their voices to make change. We were simply born into it. It was given to us. Don’t let that gift go to waste.
I’m not saying that you have to devote your life to it. You don’t have to watch or read the news everyday. You don’t have to know all of the many aspects of every issue. You don’t have to be an expert.
But you need to have an opinion about something – anything – that’s happening in our country and the world. You have to care a little. I’d urge you to care a lot. If you don’t know where to begin, start small. Pick out an issue that means something to you and investigate. Read from many different sources. Watch a speech or two. Listen to the voice inside of you that knows your definitions of right and wrong. Believe your opinion on the subject matters, because it does.
I know that it’s easy to be afraid of it. I promise you now that you won’t win every argument. You won’t always have a comeback. This has happened to me many times, because I’m not an expert. Few people are. But certainly discussing politics has brought me more understanding than choosing not to get involved would have. I have learned more about what I believe by listening to those I disagree with than by shutting myself off to debate.
People avoid conversations about politics because it makes them angry, or it makes others angry, but the very fact that it stirs up so much passion makes it something significant. That anger is valuable. It helps us to recognize the ideas we feel strongly about. It helps us to define our own truth. It demands our attention and motivates us to fight for what we believe in. It is the root of all hope. There is no reason to fear the kind of anger that inspires the desire for change.
This stuff is important. You cannot dismiss the power of government simply by saying you’re not into it. It will not control your life any less. Everything we do is dictated by these laws. Why wouldn’t you want to have a say in them?
I’m not telling you to vote democrat, although personally I wish you would. But I am telling you to vote. I’m telling you to stop believing your opinion doesn’t matter. I’m telling you to get a little fired up. I’m telling you to start caring.
Care about those who came before you and risked everything so that you could have a voice. Care about those around you. Care about this country. Care about the world. Care about yourself. Care about your children and the future we are shaping for them. Care about what’s happening now and what will happen next.
Stop saying you’re not really into it. It is a privilege to be into it. It is a rare and remarkable thing to get to be involved. Don’t take it for granted.