I believe everyone should vote. As Americans we have the hard-earned privilege of choosing our leaders. I remember the excitement I felt as I clung to my mother’s jacket as she entered the voting booth and flipped the monstrous lever to cast her vote. It seemed so important--all the businessmen in their suits lined up outside the fire hall, the mothers and their children, the elderly couple holding hands--all waiting for their chance to make history.
As I grew older I began to take an interest in the country I was a citizen of and the things I would someday vote for. I couldn’t wait until I was 18 and would get to join the line of voters outside the local fire hall. Now that I can finally be a part of that club I will participate in all the opportunities I have.
As I grew older I noticed that the interests of my peers began to move in a different direction. I listened to the talking in the hall, the discussions after class, the arrogant statements. I’m not going to vote. It doesn’t matter if I do. I don’t know anything about government. I don’t care about politics anyway. It made me sad; did no one care that we had the opportunity to help our country?
It wasn’t just voting that my peers didn’t seem to care about; it was more. School was lame. Studying was pointless. Who cared about cleaning their room or taking the time to volunteer at a nursing home when it was so much easier to seem above it all and sit on the computer consuming mindless media all day?
Why did everyone seem so apathetic? Was I missing something? Was it suddenly a badge of honor to be completely carefree? Did I care too much? What happened to beliefs? What happened to passion? I worried and wondered how I could feel so differently from people who I considered my friends.
And I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I do know this: We all need a personal belief system. Understanding and outlining what is important to us is vital in understanding what kind of a society we are. How do we feel about politics, religion, and art? What makes us excited, enthralled, enamored? Whatever it is, finding it is the first step to self-discovery.
As college students, we are not the same as we were as small children--we have separated ourselves from the infants of the world. As we change physically, we begin to become aware of all that the world has to offer. And we choose how to feel about it all. Of that, what do we acknowledge? We have the power to decide what is good or bad, right or wrong. We gather information, we learn and we decide. (Sometimes) We decide to do something instead of sitting idle and letting others do the work for us. Apathy is a passive choice, but it is still that—a choice. When we don’t speak up and vote or work toward the changes we want, we cannot complain if choices are made that we don’t agree with.
And our beliefs can always change—we are always growing, we should never be afraid to reconsider our thoughts. Fear is the mother of misery and regret. Just because someone has always been a Catholic, doesn't mean he can't learn about Judaism. Education is something that can never be lost. We should learn as much as we can, travel, ask questions, debate with our peers, find the facts, look at things from someone else's shoes and decide how we feel.
We should never be afraid to tell the world what we think because sometimes it is easier to hear one shout than a chorus of confusion. We are surrounded by our families, friends, constant media updates…everyone wants to tell us what to think. We must listen and decide what we believe and what we don’t. Let’s learn how to make ourselves heard without forgetting to hear others. Sometimes we aren't the experts but listening to one can change everything. We must accept when we are wrong, work to become right. Always learn what other's think and question them. Apathy does nothing. We should seek out our passions and put them to use in the world, whether it's casting a vote or building tree-houses in the Amazon.
Whatever it is—let’s care about it.