TITLE by Helen-Margaret Nasser
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
I recently spoke with a class of students about the importance of voting, of political engagement, and of political power. I gave several examples of past and present political activism and social movements- David and Goliath type victories – to show that change is possible. I gave caveats that change isn’t easy, and doesn’t happen overnight. It takes commitment, patience, perseverance, and support. Nonetheless, I was met with a few skeptical students and it made me ponder why do I believe change is possible and how could I compel others to see their political potential?
Here are a few of the skeptical comments:
“If you know it isn’t going to change, then why bother?”
“Only athletes or wealthy businessmen have influence on politics”
“I voted in 2018 but the outcome wasn’t what I wanted – so now I don’t think I want to vote again.”
“Business and politicians are only going to lie to get our money or our votes.”
And some glimmers of hope:
“I know it isn’t going to change but I still don’t give up”
“I believe we are already changing; our generation is already less racist than previous generations.”
“We can change how we talk to our kids, raise our kids, etc. to show them how not to act”
I reminded them of the quote from Wayne Gretzky: “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” What have you got to lose by voting? Start there. Politicians aren’t inclined to care about your opinions if they don’t have your vote to begin with. Show up. Vote. Speak up. Then you’ll have their attention. Threaten to to give your vote to someone else if they don’t deliver on their promises- then you’ll keep their attention.
But what is it? Am I too naive to be hopeful for change? Or are they too complacent to be the change? Nonetheless, I’m still going to be hopeful that over time I can keep convincing them that our country needs their voices and no one is going to speak up for them. The time is now. The people are us.