I have refrained from writing anything too political on this blog for months. I haven't wanted to contribute to the noise. I haven't wanted to start unnecessary fights. And overall, I want to believe, and mostly still do believe, that despite our differences, we all want relatively the same things.
That being said, the last few months have been rough for me personally. Our recent election was one of the most contentious, unprofessional, and downright shocking in recent memory. This isn't the first time I voted for someone who didn't win (although, it is the second time the person I voted for got the popular vote and still lost). This is, however, the first time I have truly been worried about the direction our country is going.
But that isn't what this post is about. Despite how cathartic a long diatribe might be, it's not the point. We're all going to get enough of that over the next four years without me adding to it.
What this is about, though, is how we got to this point, and how each of us is responsible. I don't mean responsible in a "you voted for him/her" way. I mean responsible in our job as citizens. Basic civic responsibility.
Over the years we have become complacent in our citizenry. I think a lot of us have gotten lazy and have taken freedoms like the free press, freedom of speech, and the most basic and simplest idea that our government is there to help and protect us, for granted.
We have slowly and casually neglected to hold these institutions accountable. We have become passive in voicing our opinion on a regular basis and now seem to only exercise that right once every four years - and half of us don't even do that. We have become apathetic to what is happening in our country unless it directly affects us.
And a lot of us do it. A lot of us have become lazy, myself included.
I'm ashamed to admit it, but I am one of those millennials that gets half of their news from social media. I am one of those people who, up until recently, has never contacted my congressman or representatives. I have rarely done in-depth research on bills, or things that were up for debate. I haven't keep tabs on how often my elected officials were voting, or even what their full voting record was. I haven't fully researched my local officials. I haven't gone the extra step and looked for more information.
And that's on me. That's on all of us who are just like me. We are the problem.
Now, more than ever, we need to step up to the plate and put some effort into our own citizenry. If we all love our country as much as we say we do, we will do our due diligence and participate in our government.
We all need to be more vigilant in holding our elected officials accountable. We all need to be better informed. We all need to actually take the time to educate ourselves on what is going on in our country.
And I get it. It's time-consuming. It requires effort. And frankly, with how depressing the news is today, I'm tempted to not even watch because of how hopeless and depressed I end up feeling. In all seriousness, the negativity of the news after a while affects my mental well-being.
But that can't be an excuse. Being lazy is no longer an option. We all need to do our part, do our own research, and become more informed. The comedian George Carlin once said:
"Government's don't want well-informed, well-educated people. That goes against their interests. They want obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept it."
He also said:
"If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you're going to get selfish, ignorant leaders."
Let's not prove him right.