As I watch the 2nd presidential debate, I want to take a moment and suggest something to folks who are busy studying at Willamette.
My experience at WU and after graduating, showed me that choosing to build relationship with people different from myself, was just as important as my choice to improve my own individual well-being through studying.
I graduated with a BA in Sociology in 2013. While in school I succeeded academically. I enjoyed classes in my major but also minored in Chemistry and Spanish. It was a great experience. Duvall, Stanislov, and Vargas, Blano-Ernejo were favorites. After receiving some amazing mentorship from upperclassmen about inclusion, respect, oppression, and with some help from peers I started a few student organizations (Kaneko Community Partnership Committee, Colleges Against Cancer Willamette Chapter, Leadership Consultants) and helped carry on the traditions of some others (Kaneko Partnership Committee, Interfraternity Council, Farm Club).
At this point you may be like this guy:
or this guy
What does my history at Willamette have to do with the elections and political burnout?
Politics are hard to watch. Even school elections are emotionally tough. I would argue they all inspire a reaction. I usually have a reaction of some kind…even if it is an upset stomach. I want you to remember, that even during the national election you are responsible for how you channel that reaction! You could do amazing things to help yourself and others! You could post funny memes in a blog post to Willamette students. You could go volunteer to get more folks registered to vote, or at the local food bank instead.
In my graduate program I am learning more about politics, I am seeing just how hard to make positive change in community can be.
Federal government is so far from removed from our day-to-day. Yes, voting matters (If you are not registered yet, get it done tonight!).
Here’s the link for Oregon voters. DEADLINE IN OREGON IS OCTOBER 18, AT MIDNIGHT!
Here’s the link for national registration if you don’t know how your state works.
Whatever you choose, just choose something that involves DIFFERENT people around you. I was able to accomplish some great things while at WU, but they poorly compared to some of the work done by my peers. They got out of the Willamette Bubble and made positive impacts on the community members around them affected by policy. Learning about my peers/community members and what they did different with their reaction to politics impacted the way I am acting now.
There is something about government to take pride in, to be observant of…it is that you are directly impacting your local government every single day. Every day, you step out of your door or onto your Facebook page, and you begin to change the environment you live in. You are a vibrant part of the community. By not voting you are impacting your community.
So, now I’ll pose a question to the reader,
what kind of personal and community impact are you going to have?
Now, if your goal is to dramatically change the well-being of a large population where you live…it will be slow. It requires patience as Yasmine described in her post. To change local politics there are commissions, there are councils, there are proposals, there are neighbors. Most importantly there are people who you have not met who will be impacted by your changes. So, how do you begin to learn about these systems and meet those who might not agree with the impact you want to have on your community?
I suggest we have the goal of positively impacting those around us who are different than ourselves, as well as our own selves.
SO! Get out and vote!!! AND become friends with someone really different from you.