This I Believe

sophie - 55117, Minnesota
Entered on October 29, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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HR 2

I have not yet experienced the thrill and power of voting. I’ve attended rallies and protest with my grandmother, but I was not involved as much as others. I attended these rallies, but I didn’t know or care what I was fighting for. My grandmother is very political. She is a liberal agnostic mother of eight who basically transformed herself from a strict Irish catholic housewife after divorcing my grandfather sometime in her late 40’s. She is the biggest motivation in my life, so I truly take her actions and opinions to heart. We went to Washington D.C. to attend a protest about Bush and the invasion of Iraq. I was about 12 years old, crammed next to my grandma on a greyhound bus with a group of long-haired, free loving activists. A group of Wisconsin college students had stories of power. They explained holding one another hands to make a wall against the police. These were people who were maybe eight years older than me. At that age, I was not interested in why we were going to Washington D.C. I was just excited to be away from school and have a nice vacation with my grandma. I knew of Democrats and Republicans, but that was about it. I wasn’t educated in politics besides the occasional apology on TV from President Bill Clinton. I thought to myself, “It’s not my problem. I didn’t vote. I can’t care about those things because they don’t have to do with me.” I didn’t believe a pre-teen girl in middle school really mattered to anyone but her parents. I began to realize why I was there when all the stories of past experiences came up. They intrigued me to the point that I was interested in something besides my own adolescent thoughts. Stories of police brutality, being arrested and thrown in the back of a police vehicle, and standing together to build barricades.

Even my grandmother had an amazing story of protesting and being arrested at Honeywell at the age of 53 for trying to persuade the corporation to start beating cluster bombs in plowshares. Everyone had a different story, but they were all a part of a common goal, a better future. And that future was mine. It hit me that I can make a difference. I always pictured myself alone with no one to back my ideas or me. But there at that moment, I saw power in numbers and strength in spirit. In a way the bus ride full of liberal hippies felt patriotic. We were trying to make America a better and safer place to live. We didn’t want other countries to hate us for our President’s actions. We were there to try to impeach Bush, but we were doing it for the better good. Not to make problems but to solve them and help our children’s children.

I have decided after this experience to be a liberal, but for my own reasons. I believe in abortion rights and lower taxes. Giving back to the community and helping others. This experience with my grandma has changed my life and the way I think. I’m matured because it’s not all about me anymore. I think in an unselfish way. Instead of what trendy new shoes or purses can I buy, I see what’s new in current events in America and I try and figure out ways to stay informed. We can all make a difference if we just try. I still love my country just as much as any other American, no matter who’s in office. Now I care if the president elected is really doing his job and doing it for the right reasons. If he is in office for his country and its people.

We finally arrived in Washington D.C., got off the bus just in time to join the other thousands of people protesting yelling “It’s time for change.” Holding posters saying, “Hey Hey Ho Ho this son of a Bush has got to go!” It was so intense. Everyone screaming and yelling but not in anger necessarily but just to voice our opinion as loud as we could so the right people would hear us.

We marched from the White House to Capitol Hill and it thrilled me. There was a type of rush that I had never experienced before. A power and passion high. I had never felt so involved in anything before, not even school. This was different and fun. I’m grateful to have such a wonderful grandmother who showed me these things and let me experience this at such a young age. She has motivated me and helped me grow by showing me what I can do and how I can help. I am a happier, more involved, more intelligent person and it has helped me find myself. Strength in numbers and self-belief is what I believe in. Once I figured out my own opinion, I could help others and make a difference.