Opinion: Stay engaged when you’re enraged

I get it — the current political climate ignites a passion from within you. You might even need to express that passion on social media here and there. And, from the comfort of your home — possibly with a smart device — you may be crusading to the internet ether by sharing the most politically charged, confirmation bias-tickling meme you’ve ever come across. You know what? I’m tired of it.

Yes, this goes out to the ones complaining about socio-political issues without putting in any effort to make a change. This goes out to those spouting rhetoric they either don’t fully understand or can hardly even pronounce. This even goes out to the ones who blame UW Tacoma’s disappointing lack of student engagement with clubs and events on the school’s origins as a commuter school: Be active or be quiet.

Before you start penning that rage-induced letter to the editor, I want to clarify my point. Yes, I absolutely believe in staying actively engaged in political discourse — especially in our current political climate. And yes, I also realize life happens, and that this prevents passionate dedication to any cause. However, I am not talking about the people who are trying their best, despite their full lives. I’m talking about the ones who make you think they’re trying their best.

Also, I would like to take this time to address my own self: be active or be quiet, Sean. Yes, your very own opinion editor falls into the all-talk-and-no-substance pitfall every now and then. Seems a bit contradictory, doesn’t it? But I feel the best way to address the rest of you offenders is by holding myself accountable — by practicing what I preach — in hopes that I can set an example for somebody out there to follow.

But this is where the key lies — recognizing your own limitations, then adapting your modus operandi to best suit those limitations. I know plenty of people who are so busy that they can’t possibly attend every rally, meeting or protest on the schedule, but they do what they can to sign online petitions, organize events, and investigate socio-political issues more thoroughly. Even some extra researching makes for some time well-spent, instead of drafting endless complaints for the social media ether.

Now that I’ve addressed the busy folks, I want to address an even more troubling demographic — those with the time, availability and resources to be active in their community, but don’t do anything but complain — to the internet. Respectfully, I beg of you: be active or be quiet. If you’re really as fired up as you claim to be, stick that flame in your social justice engine and let it roar. Get out and protest. Actively search for local rallies. Call your local representatives. Donate money to those in need — businesses and individuals alike. Wasting that energy doesn’t do anybody any favors, so stop it.

Lastly, I want to address the ones — like myself — who are anxious, afraid or unsure of what avenue to take to make a difference. And my answer is this — ask around. Do your research. Get out of the house, if you can. Take a chance with an event, group or rally you’ve never participated in. The world needs people like us — those who mean well, but lack the confidence to show the world that active engagement still exists in the burgeoning digital age.

ILLUSTRATION BY ALEXX ELDER

 

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