Civic ignorance

We live in a place where the president draws scrutiny from multiple angles, where a political majority gains misgivings and where we are confronted with places like Darfur.

We live in a place where the president draws scrutiny from multiple angles, where a political majority gains misgivings and where we are confronted with places like Darfur. You would like to think that in America we would find voices that challenge and engage these issues. But it seems that any dissenting voice strikes too softly and barely makes a difference.

In years past, younger generations have been seen as a changing and effective force, but today our generation of Millennials or Generation Y’ers seem to be removed from their civic dependability. In addition to a world full of relevant issues, we are faced with an unengaged younger generation who, simply put, are either not educated in world events or just don’t care.

We have been raised on stories of the 1960s, with its great cultural movement and a youth’s active and passionate engagement with civil themes. We have perhaps heard the origins of the punk rock generation challenging authority and social unrest, or the later continuance of this principle through hip-hop. We can even go as far back to our founding fathers and their initial American spirit to stand against the unjust powers that be. How do we measure up against their legacy?

According to a study by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), only 11 percent of U.S. citizens ages 15 to 25 protested for a cause or contacted a political official in 2006. Also reported by CIRCLE is that only 26 percent of people aged 20 to 25 vote, and 58 percent of the younger generation are considered “disengaged” from civic issues.

Are we simply a generation blind to the world around us?

When it comes to sounding some sort of voice, it seems the loudest noise we make is the clicking of a keyboard. It is easy to go online and write up a blog or two, or sign whatever online petition comes one’s way, but at some point, we must be active on a higher level. Eventually, people will have to leave the keyboard and get out into the real world.

The 1963 March on Washington brought 250,000 people together to send their message about civil rights. Right now, thousands in Burma protest their government. Are such things possible in America today?

Are we not presented with pressing issues in our world? Are we not at war? Is there not legislation being passed that draws extreme controversy? Will social security be there for us years from now? Are there not acts of genocide taking place right now? Is our economy healthy? Is the United States torturing its captives? What are the details on global warming?

There are issues all around us, some that directly affect and influence our lives. Our friends and family could be in Iraq or Afghanistan. The nature of our economy could be a sign of life after college. How we treat our captives could affect how we are viewed and dealt with around the world.

I am not trying to stimulate a view on the war or the president or any other issue. What must be understood is that these issues and many more out there are pertinent. To ignore them is irresponsible and dangerous. The founding fathers believed that democracy could only work well if the citizens were educated. Our democracy won’t operate in our favor if we remain ignorant and unengaged. In essence, if we don’t pay attention, then we aren’t truly free.

The simplest thing a person can do is vote. It is understandable that we cannot tackle everything we could care about, so it is important to vote for the right people or the right laws, as you see it. Be active in groups that make a difference, or simply just go to your local political party’s meetings. It is easy to get caught up in our day-to-day lives, but those lives are a luxury provided by our system, a system that could be threatened by our lack of attention.