This I Believe

Ben - Cenetnnial, Colorado
Entered on November 16, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
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We live in a representative Democracy. However, to be properly represented, we must first represent ourselves. So I believe in the importance of participation in politics.

I often hear people complain that politicians will do anything for a vote. To me this just shows that the people have great power. Whatever their interests may be, our representatives try to pander to them. It is their duty to do what is in the best interest of their constituents. I also often hear that with great power comes great responsibility. As the people of this nation, we have the great power to demand things of our representatives. But with this comes the responsibility of educating ourselves and making informed decisions. We must take it upon ourselves to become educated, responsible voters and activists. To merely sit at home and complain about all the negative campaign ads and mud slinging that goes on is a cop out approach. Instead of simply complaining, we must rise above it. Do research. Read the news. Surf the web. It is paramount that we place importance on finding reliable, accurate sources on both sides of the political spectrum. Then we can decide what we personally think is best for our nation, our state, or our community. We can no longer hope that someone else will become informed for us. The Future is too precious a thing to place in the hands of others.

With this responsibility to become educated comes the need to be activists, have respectful dialog, and vote. An informed populous that sits and does nothing is useless. Once we have taken the step to become informed, we must then apply our knowledge. The most important thing to do is vote. Change will not happen spontaneously. The easiest thing you can do to create change, or affirm the status quo, is vote. It is your guaranteed right to stand up for yourself. But if you wish to go even further than this basic civic duty, become an activist. Encourage respectful dialog about issues. Stand up for what you believe in. Even if activism isn’t your thing, it is still critical to get out there, register, and vote. Exercise your rights. As Gandhi said, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”

It is often said that those who do not vote have no right to complain about the way things are. By relinquishing their right to participate, they also relinquish their right to complain. However, our Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to free speech. But voting and participation are our ways to stand up for ourselves and to protect and safeguard our rights. And if we fail to become responsible, involved citizens, it is possible that we the people, could lose what we hold most dear. Only through becoming educated and exercising our rights can we see the change we wish for and protect the things that we treasure.