As tensions rise over the current state of affairs, both at home and abroad, it seemed worthwhile to re-post this blog post, since it seems more applicable than ever.
In the past decade or so, America has undergone a profound change. I’m not talking about change as some sort of abstract term. I’m talking about a very real shift in American consciousness. Now change, by its very nature, is never a simple thing to understand and as some of you might be able to imagine, it’s even more difficult to discuss. But don’t let my lack of words deter you, because I assure that change is there.
I could offer you a handful of half-assed solutions as to what’s brought about this change in the way that America operates, but I’m not even going to try. In fact, truth be told, I’ve got my work cut out for me just trying to explain the change, but I’m gonna give it a shot anyway.
There was a period not too long ago in American history where people took Gandhi’s advice to heart. They became the change they wanted to see in the world. They would protest, petition, rally, and strive for change in any way possible. You can make an argument whether any of it was successful or not, but that’s really irrelevant here. The point is, they tried for something.
A few years ago, I would’ve told you the problem with America was the indifference. People went through the days of their lives at the hands of their government, never questioning their motives or their methods, but rather, trusting that their government had their best interest at heart. Call me a cynic but if modern-day politics has taught me anything it’s that the actual interests of the people are secondary (if even that) to what the government thinks its people should want.
But like I said, a change has occurred even since then. No, I’m not talking about more national debt. I’m talking about people’s views on politics and their involvement in the system. As the 2008 election proved, people saw an opportunity to decide the fate of their nation. After 8 years under Bush’s leadership, people wanted change; the type of change that Obama had to offer. Now that Obama’s been in office for several years and the threat of a passive president is beginning to become very real to many Americans, we’re seeing people becoming spirited again. We’re seeing people getting pissed. We’re seeing people complaining.
But where do we go from here? Sure, a shift from indifference to some sort of emotional vigor is the first step, but it’s not the only one. When will my generation realize that there needs to be some sort of follow through? I don’t say this as if I’m exempt from this lesson nor do I mean to imply that every American is inactive, but my generation has been fed lie after lie.
You’re special. True or false? False.
If you work hard, you’ll do well in life. True or false? False.
But what makes this particularly confusing is when tiny, inevitable truths are mixed in with all the falsehoods.
Voting is your civic responsibility. True or false? True.
But civic duty doesn’t end there in the polling place. So here we are. We’ve moved from indifference to a sort of semi-passivity. Where do we go from here?
Without sounding too preachy, I have a few suggestions. Use your talents to get involved. You may be a people person, so use your people skills to engage in a discussion about what needs to change and how we can change it.
Ask questions. Don’t just say, “I hate Obama’s stance on the economic crisis.” Try and figure out what may inform his position or your own.
Finally, and most simply, find your voice. As a writer, I’m always struggling to make a point in a way that is uniquely my own. This difficulty doesn’t exist for just writers. This is a universal problem, but a crucial one. Find your voice and don’t be afraid to be heard. It’s the only way we can go from being pissed to being pissed off and doing something about it.