Everything in life is political, but not in the way that we commonly understand politics. Most people see politics as “business as usual” where money holds more weight than votes and campaign season just means false promises, smear tactics and character assassinations. I’m not claiming these things don’t occur, clearly they do, but there is a larger and more important role for politics in our daily lives.
Politics are just people, priorities and decisions. It’s just as political for your parents to say no, because they said so, as it is for the president to make decisions, because he can. Politics are just a strategy to assert power and influence over people to create change or to maintain the status quo. Half the battle is realizing this, the other half is putting it to use.
Everyone thinks about changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves, as Tolstoy said centuries ago. Everyone has an opinion that they believe is better than the next person’s, but very few people are willing to take the time to do anything but complain. Even fewer ever consider their own ability to have an impact on the situation.
Today, I ask that you consider this: The only way to change things is to do it yourself. Endless complaining just creates a passive sense of helplessness. You have two clear options to assert yourself and break this cycle; you can work to change something around you or you can change internally and adjust to the situation.
Some people choose to ignore things altogether, claiming that they don’t have an impact on their life, but ignorance isn’t always as blissful as they say. In reality, we’re all affected by everything around us and when we’re not standing up for what we believe, someone else is claiming to stand up on our behalf, whether or not we actually support what they’re advocating. Silence is complacency in a representative democracy. The only people who really make a difference are the ones who show up, the ones who vote, the ones who care and let others know that they do.
Here are a few tips for people looking to make a real difference, not just to build a resume:
Always look for more opportunities to get involved and make a difference.
Spend your free time working on the things you care about most.
Search for ways that you can adjust your own strategies to be more effective.
Create ways to integrate the principles you’re advocating into your own life.
Don’t be afraid to choose between issues you’re going to focus on and which ones you’ll leave to everyone else.
If you need help getting started, or want to meet hundreds of students who are already making it happen, register for the Change the Status Quo Conference this weekend. It’s only $5 for an incredible educational and training experience.
The bottom line is that we’ve got to be willing to work for change, in the most literal sense. Armchair activists, intellectual critics and politicians alone will never produce any real change. We need people on the ground, in the trenches, working to improve our world.
These are the individuals that make a difference around the world, every day. Will you work for change?
Tylor Middlestadt is the ASI president and a Mustang Daily columnist who thinks everyone should work for change as their second job. He can be reached at email@example.com, 756-5828, or AIM: CPASI President