“Why Don’t We Talk About Politics?”
by Katherine Carrillo
The people at my job do not talk about the politics contributing to their daily lives. The people who attend the same parties as me do not sit and choose political discussions over beer pong. I am a 22-year-old who would love to conversate about political theory and world leaders. However, I have not come across people with these similar desires. It is not a complaint because conversations usually require two people. Plus, individuals, including myself, tend to go to parties to party. The previous statements are merely observations within my own life that I find unsettling. The importance lies in the fact that I may not personally know many people willing to participate in these conversations, but these people do exist. There are young people out there who have had conversations die out because the other person was disinterested in politics. I am writing this article because I hope those people read this and know they are not alone. If you’re not one of those people, I advise you to keep reading.
It is up to us as a society to change this idea that we shouldn’t have to worry about politics because we are “young”. We live in a world where laws are passed discreetly and without input from the people they apply to. With this said, it’s easy to be apolitical when you have the privilege of not worrying about your citizenship status, your healthcare, or your tax return. It’s even easier to be young and unwilling to learn about things we are not automatically taught in school. The unfortunate reality is that many of us experience our entire educational career without any knowledge of how to keep up with new legislation. Of course, most of us haven’t been taught how to do our taxes either, but that’s another conversation. To clarify, there are three main reasons why someone is not paying attention to politics: they can afford not to, they were taught it’s not important, and they believe that politics don’t affect them. Regardless of what the reason may be, I’m here to tell you that politics are indeed important because they impact every part of our lives.
Many times I have heard other young adults talk about how horrible a politician is and when they are asked to explain how- they typically don’t know what to say. If we took the time to understand the policies that we are supporting or are against, we could make more informed decisions when it comes to voting, etc. Not only this, if we claim to “want change”, we must try to learn about the people who can make change happen.
It’s important to note the role that media has in how we learn and talk about politics. Instagram feeds are flooded with political comments and memes. Yet, we are censored to a lot of information that is not so easily found. Some information has to be saught and researched. Although this can be exciting, because you may find out some interesting things in your quest for information. It could also lead you to make more action-based decisions to create the change that many of us want to see. A quick repost on Instagram could be the first step, but there is more to be done. This is not to discredit digital activism at all. It’s just important to note that everything is held in the spotlight until the next trend or cat video takes over. After that, we are left wondering where is the change of laws?
Several laws have indeed changed thanks to change.org and moveon.org. However, there is still more than can be done outside of online petitions. There always is.
The laws that are passed affect the minimum wage that high schoolers will receive when they get their first job. They affect the facilities that recent college grads will one day work in. They also affect when and who can get married. Politics are not something that should be avoided because you feel learning or talking about it will make no change.
Look into the impact that collective knowledge and vocalization have accomplished. Recall the changes brought by Martin Luther King, Du Bois, and Gandhi. They looked at how things were and didn’t sit idly waiting for change. They made it happen. They also didn’t have Instagram pages with repost options. They went out to speak up about the change they wanted to see, even if their voice shook.
To those trying to follow in the footsteps of previous change-makers in unique ways: thank you. To those of you who read this article and are considering learning about current political leaders or legislation: thank you. Indeed, complete change won’t happen in one day, but it won’t happen at all if we don’t start somewhere.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world”. We can start by talking about how to make that change happen.