I know it's been a tough year, and I know we have a lot problems in this world that need to be addressed. I know that it can often feel like an uphill battle and that no actual progress is being made. I know, as a generation, we often feel powerless in a world that really doesn't want to hear our opinions, but the fact remains that we are here... and we have voices. You see, the biggest problem in America isn't gun control or the state of our education system or health care... it's APATHY.
I cannot tell you the amount of people as of late who have either revised their social media status or verbalized their opinion that the world is going to crap, but then simply sit there and do nothing. And they are not alone. I ironically began crafting this article after the Orlando nightclub shooting but soon felt... well, apathetic -- could an article like this truly make a difference? But then I brought up the topic at a dinner party and listened as people spoke about topics they were passionate about yet felt powerless in their ability to make any real impact. I mean who has the time and/or energy. But I reminded them that by simply voicing their opinions that night, they had made a difference. They had initiated debate. They had opened my eyes to a new perspective. And, they had inspired me back to this article. The truth is that change is made up of microscopic ripples, and rarely are we aware of our involvement, but each ripple is crucial to achieving the end result.
If we speak up, then at least we are part of the conversation; if we don't, then we are guaranteeing that NOTHING will change. More importantly, by remaining silent on issues that affect us, we silently declare to the world that we... are... powerless, which could not be further from the truth.
Last month, my wife and I began re-watching The West Wing -- in season one, the Bartlet Administration learns of a teen who was tied up and stoned to death for being gay; however, they found it too politically risky to declare the act a hate crime. That was less than 20 years ago... today, it is the indisputable definition of a hate crime.
Times DO change.
Let's start small: If you care about improving the education system in this nation, let's start showing more respect to teachers than we show to sports stars and celebrities. If you can't stand a certain family of reality stars who are famous for nothing more than half-naked selfies, then stop watching their show, stop buying magazines with them on the cover, stop clicking on articles about their nonsense. I promise you they will disappear quickly. If a show isn't watched (not even secretly watched), then it will be canceled. If a magazine does not sell with some reality star on the cover, then that person is unlikely to be asked back on the cover. YOUR CHOICES DO MATTER. And if you want to help change gun control laws, sign a petition with a reputable organization and #DisarmHate, or try finding out which politicians the NRA has in their pockets and vote for someone else! Sitting and complaining about the state of the world will not bring about any change; however, educating yourself and those around you about potential solutions... well, that actually could. The people of this great nation made American Idols like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood millionaires; I believe if the same amount of energy is exerted on discussing potential solutions for the multitude of problems facing our world, we would be that much closer to making a positive impact. For goodness sake, the internet united to get Betty White to host SNL, I think we can unite to let government officials know that they need to abide by the rules they've mandated for the rest of us (like maybe the next president and all members of congress could try using Obamacare -- I'm sure that would help in taking down the insurance companies).
At the end of the day, the truth is that it doesn't really matter what cause you choose, it matters that you care about it and that you stand up. You don't have to be the leader of the free world to impact change. No one is putting pressure on you to change the world all by your lonesome... just don't be part of the problem by sitting around complaining, while doing nothing. As Josiah Bartlet (and Harry Truman) once said, "Decisions are made by those who show up."
So when Election Day arrives, and you are faced with a decision on whether to take a stand or sit in silence while whining to yourself, please remember that when Hillary Clinton's mother was born, women did not yet have the right to vote, and now her daughter is a top contender for the President of the United States. And less than 15 years ago, same-sex marriage was illegal in every state in America. And furthermore, slavery was once legal. And you know who made those changes? We, the people. SO I leave you with the words of either Margaret Mead or Aaron Sorkin (depending on who you ask) -- "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."