How One Teen Navigates the Murky Waters of 2020 Politics

As teenagers cross over into the realm of adulthood, we encounter conflicts that we often did not have to deal with in our “childhood” years. The expectation that we know how to interact with these problems that run deeper than ourselves may seem overwhelming at times. And in that respect, there are many things to consider when becoming involved in any matter we’re passionate about. Although keeping a running tab on what the dos and don’ts of addressing political issues are isn’t necessary, it’s important to be mindful that we are taking a respectful and unintrusive approach when expressing our opinions. While I am by no means an expert on the issue, I have also recently stumbled into the world of politics. I thought I would reflect on some lessons I’ve learned, in hopes of giving some helpful tips on the best ways to navigate this hectic and scary world we live in.

Firstly, it is important to know just how powerful our voices are. Although this is true for everyone, it is especially true for those of us who are born into a demographic majority making us inherently privileged. Despite the fact that we did not ask for any advantage, just as our minority peers didn’t ask for any disadvantage, that’s how the cards fell. It is important for everyone to realize that those of us who are given more means to be heard have the power to advocate for those of us whose voices refuse to be heard. The color of our skin, our sexual orientation, and our race, among other things, unfortunately, determine how much power we hold within our society. As someone who is given more power, it would be tragic if you were to neglect your responsibility to use it. 

For some of us, our schooling systems, parents, and communities raised us thinking we lived in a world where the evolution of racism or the irreversible effects of climate change didn’t exist. Although this may have been as a means to protect us, you may have been left feeling as though you were put at a disadvantage because of it. Without having grown up learning about the issues in the world, it may seem hard to now take part in any conversations about how to solve these issues, but it is never too late to learn. There is always so much we can be doing to educate ourselves. I can safely say that no matter what cause you are interested in, educating yourself about whatever that may be is always encouraged. There is always work to be done, and our participation will always make a major difference.

For those interested in getting involved in these conversations, we are so lucky to be living in an age where that’s one internet click away. Many teenagers are active social media users, and even devote hours a day towards scrolling through Instagram or Snapchat feeds. Although social media is a form of entertainment, it is also a platform that we can take advantage of. It gives people a space to express themselves, and connect with others who do the same. Posting on social media is a great way to get our voices heard. With features such as stories which show up at the top of all of your followers’ screens, direct messaging that allows us to connect with anyone privately, and hashtags which attach your posts to others’ who use the same hashtag. Social media apps offer a countless number of ways for us to express ourselves. 

Another hands-on way to get involved is by signing petitions or donating to causes we support. Legitimate charities, specifically charities that don’t pressure donors to donate right away, and don’t request donations via cash or wire transfers, do so much work to improve the lives of everyone. Anything we can spare will help to improve the lives of others. 

Petitions are also a very efficient way to make ourselves heard by the decision-makers who influence changes that are made within our communities. Another really easy way we can get involved is by emailing policymakers from our cities or state. You can type in your search bar “letters for justice” or “sample letters for congress,” and you will be given many sites that provide outlines of letters you can write to our local or state lawmakers. 

The last, and one of the most important ways we can get involved is by voting! If you are of age, you are given the phenomenal opportunity to directly impact who runs our country. Whether it is on a local, state, or national scale, it can never be emphasised enough how important and powerful voting is. In addition to that, if you are not yet of age to vote, there are many other ways we can get involved in the electoral process. In Michigan, you only need to be 16 to work as a precinct inspector, also known as a poll worker. That age limit also applies to anyone interested in participating in or running a phone bank. If you have any further questions about any of these great and easy ways to get involved, a quick google search should be able to answer them.

All things considered, it is understandable that this all may seem a little overwhelming. When we are concerning ourselves with all of these things it may seem like the weight of the word is resting on our shoulders alone. However, that is not the case. Just because we want to help to solve big issues does not mean that we are expected to hold the solution. Hopefully, it is comforting to know that these responsibilities do not fall solely on us, and that many others around the world are also taking it upon themselves to pitch in. Through collective efforts with our peers and communities, we can work together to overcome life’s biggest hurdles. No one should fear messing up, or saying the wrong thing because in the end we’re all still learning. We should never be afraid to use our voices to speak up for what we believe in. So long as we are trying to the best of our ability to get involved in matters that are important to us, everyone should be able to realize that that’s all that truly matters.