A lot has been happening these days. I started writing this piece before the executive orders trying to stop the entry of immigrants had been signed. It’s hard to find a balance between wanting to be as up-to-date on the news as possible and knowing that it is negatively impacting your day-to-day functioning.
There will people that stand in the way of justice, and there will be people that stand idly by injustice. It is exhausting and wearing to the core to want to fix the broken deeds of others trying to tarnish the lives of those they view as less. But let it ignite you, and remember that match inside you might be the one that can light the way for others to follow. How many empathic tears must we cry? What will make our enraged voices heard?
We must take action, and it is beginning. The women's marches turned out nearly three million people. And that is just the start. We must unite so that everyone can feel safe - people of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ community and women. I want it to be known that this is more than a difference in political beliefs. This is wanting to be reassured that the people in this country won't be stripped from their homes. This is for those that fled from fear or strife to come to a place of freedom to feel free from worry once more.
Think of how many times we recited the Pledge of Allegiance in school. We start saying it so young that we don’t truly think about what it means. And by the time we were in high school, it was often an effortless reciting of words that came over the crackling intercom during third period. And we’d say it back, always ending with the promise of “liberty and justice for all.”
So what does that mean for us now? Does all nowadays just mean whomever the president decides is worthy of liberty and justice? We pledged to be indivisible. We all did. And for that, we must be united. United in standing for everyone. We are born with sight, therefore we are not blind to differences. But what is important is to not let difference divide. Recognize that nobody can help what circumstances they are born into, and do not force anyone to feel apologetic about who they are or where they come from.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Democracy is supposed to be a scale in which every voice carries the same weight. The scale is imbalanced when a few are heard over the masses. Let’s fix that.
So where do we begin?
Research. Reading headlines on Facebook or 140 characters of a tweet is not enough to consider yourself in the know. Remember that as UF students, we are fortunate enough to have a free year subscription to the New York Times online. If you’re uninterested in that, read credible sources. Understand that a lot of news on TV is filtered with opinion.
Donate. I know that nobody in college has tons of money to donate but think about it this way: instead of buying a new $20 shirt, consider borrowing a friend’s and donate to the American Civil Liberties Union instead. It’s important now, more than ever, that we have advocates to assure that our constitutional rights are being protected.
March. There are marches and protests popping up all over the country in defence of immigrants. There’s plans for a March for Science on Earth Day. And there’s been protests on this campus defending various issues going on currently. March for what you believe in.
Stand up. Sometimes it can be nerve-wracking to disagree with people. But ultimately, you should never compromise your beliefs. Do your civic duty, and fight for what you think is right. You won’t regret it later.
Photo credit: Refinery 29