Luka Winter
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Rise Up

The Importance of Vitality in Politics

We the people. If you live in the US, you've heard those three words (and probably at least part of the statement after it) more times than you can count. Out of the entire constitution, these three words have been drilled into our minds since we could even say "politics" — but do we really hold enough value to them? It's easy to memorize a line or statement and repeat it like a broken record. The part where a lot of us seem to lose interest is in analyzing what exactly the speaker meant. We know it's important, but we don't really care why, and that needs to change.

When we hear "We the people," a vast majority of us likely imagine a boring lecture hall or old white guys standing around a table two centuries ago, droning on about the most boring elements of politics. Maybe the image of a newborn nation comes to mind, or more patriotic images of sacrifice and victory. Still, it's hard to be motivated by a paper you were forced to read when you were twelve for a mediocre grade on an essay you procrastinated on until fifteen minutes before class and gave yourself a hand cramp completing. "We the people," however, is more relevant today than ever before.

As a society we're learning to avoid politics, making it a taboo or dangerous topic that's best kept to ourselves. This is a horrible mistake. We shut ourselves out of the big decisions and cross our fingers that everything turns out fine, but the reality is that politics affect every aspect of our lives, from grocery shopping to whether or not you're going to survive another year. Without them, you'd probably be fighting Avelyn the Shield Mistress for a hunk of meat instead of peacefully reading an article on your phone or laptop. But that doesn't mean we can sit back and relax and let the "professionals" take care of the things we'd rather not have to think about. We're not out of the woods as a society and really, we never will be. Politics will always be a battle and a heated discussion at the dinner table, that's just the nature of humans — but we can't allow ourselves to shrink back from the conflict.

We don't put enough value on political views today, and the younger you are, the harder it can be to imagine yourself changing anything on such a large level. You hear "go vote!" everywhere you go during election season, but it's easy to believe that your vote doesn't count when we have to go through the Electoral College, and the popular vote is just a fantasy. It makes your one little pamphlet seem like a waste of a perfectly good tree. Let me tell you a secret, though: your chance to change the world doesn't end at the polls. Vote, yes, but don't submit and quit. No one ever founded a country or saved a life by hopping the bigger people in charge know what they're doing. They stood for everything they believed in.

What do you believe in? Figure that out, first and foremost — then fight. Not physically, I shouldn't have to say that, but get involved. What's going on around you? Where are the closest activist groups, any upcoming protests you can get to, any donations you can make or numbers you can call? You can be persistent, even with an entire country against you, and you can absolutely begin massive change. Find allies and bury your feet in the ground, refuse to move. Pick up a pen (or, you know, keyboard) and write. When online, share everything you find to be important everywhere you can. Educate yourself. Make noise and encourage everyone you know to join in, because even what's "boring" today could become an inability to afford medication for your kid in a decade, or watching an innocent person you know suffer to an unjust system next weekend.

We are not helpless. People you only dream about, watch movies or (definitely not specific) hit musicals about, were never any different from you. They didn't accomplish anything because of luck, or even necessarily because of some skill. They said what they thought, and made sure they were heard. They put together their arguments with facts and eloquence and forced everyone to listen, even if they only managed to do so by repeating themselves for fifty years.

As I wrap up this little essay, I have to add; I don't mean you should get out there and yell about things you don't understand. Learn to support your argument, use facts (not opinions), research, and study. Be able to provide sources. All that fun stuff. And I write this essay not for Liberals or Conservatives, but for anyone who feels undervalued and useless in politics.

"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." — Evelyn Beatrice Hall

So, please, say it.

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