Politics are difficult to talk about. With many opposing views, emotionally-charged topics and personal connections, people often become uncomfortable and choose to ignore the subject altogether.
But this is not the time to do so. Current events are more unique than ever before and will continue to have a lasting impact on the social and political culture of the United States. The influential nature of such events simply cannot be ignored by the citizens of this country.
The president of the United States and members of his administration have hired lawyers to protect themselves as the investigation into Russia’s possible interference with the 2016 presidential election intensifies.
Police officers — such as Jeronimo Yanez from Minnesota, who fatally shot Philando Castile and was acquitted of all charges in June — are repeatedly getting away with the killing of black citizens.
Congress continues to go back and forth on health care, recently reviewing — but not passing — a “skinny repeal” bill to remove parts of the Affordable Care Act, including employee mandates for insurance.
Discrimination against immigrants and Muslims has been reinforced by President Trump’s executive orders: “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” and “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”
These are issues happening right now. These are issues that matter. These are issues worth discussing.
Unfortunately, apathy has become a common attitude among Americans in regards to the current political and social climate. Heated debates were impossible to ignore in the weeks leading up to November’s election, and it seems that these have subsided as the reality of Trump’s presidency sinks in. Because Trump’s America is no longer a looming possibility but a harsh reality, we as a society are in danger of growing desensitized to the extremity of his actions.
People can become uncomfortable when discussing controversial topics, but we can no longer afford to simply disregard the issues that don’t impact our lives directly. In everyday life, we may not feel the effects of presidential actions, congressional affairs or Supreme Court decisions, but as American citizens, it’s our duty to pay attention.
With the rise of social media and other technological advances, we have the advantage of accessing the news with the click of a button or the tap of a touch screen. This is an opportunity that we simply must seize. It’s the responsibility of each person to remain educated and updated on current events, form an opinion and take action.
Regardless of which side of the political spectrum you fall, now is not the time to remain silent. Conversations are essential, no matter how difficult and emotional they may become. In order to remain open-minded and educated, we must expose ourselves to people who think differently than us.
Regardless of whether or not you support the president, I urge you to reflect. Have you paid attention to efforts mobilizing in support of your cause? Have you read, watched or listened to current news? Are you forming a justified and logical opinion?
For those of you who oppose the president: What actions have you taken as a form of resistance? Have you paid attention to social issues, including those involving people of color, immigrants and Muslims? Have you supported organizations with progressive goals, protested or contacted legislators? Have you engaged in challenging conversation with others?
For those of you who support the president: What actions have you taken to display support? Have you paid attention to social issues which oppose the conservative view? Have you supported conservative organizations, especially those currently under fire? Have you engaged in challenging conversation with others?
Neither side of the political spectrum — whether within Congress or society — is without flaws. I am not here to tell you how to vote, which causes and candidates to support or how to think.
I am here to encourage you to pay attention to the unparalleled events in our nation’s history, to challenge yourself and your beliefs, to take action and to keep your mind open.
Change will not come without the participation of the people. You are the people; participate.