The Danger of Political Inaction

The actions of our current political system thus far have been devastating to the safety of immigrants, women, Native Americans, and our environment. In the face of this political onslaught, many people have claimed that they will be part of the revolution, that of course they are against the actions of Donald Trump. However, most people who have asserted that they are against the political agenda of our new government have taken no tangible action to promote such change. In fact, many people are excusing themselves from these hard-hitting issues entirely, describing the overwhelming media coverage of politics as “annoying.”

If you are annoyed with the magnified coverage of political issues, you should consider your privilege. Not everyone can as easily ignore the surge of social injustice in our country. For a lot of people — mainly immigrants, indigenous people, and women — the issues of unconstitutional immigration policies, the denial of tribal water rights, and the defunding of Planned Parenthood are extremely relevant.

When you find yourself with negative thoughts about the political actions of activists or are blatantly inactive in these social justice movements, you should question the weight of the burden you carry. Right now, the burden rests most heavily on the shoulders of our Muslim, Native American, and female neighbors.

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To accept passively an unjust system is to cooperate with that system; thereby the oppressed become as evil as the oppressor.

Martin Luther King Jr.

With different opinions on what the future of America should be, we find ourselves at a crossroads, a time of progression or regression, no matter how you define the two. At moments like this, it is crucial to remember that our country has been divided, in one way or another, since its founding.

In the current political climate, people are uncertain of how to feel, who to trust, and what to do. As a young woman of color, I am personally ashamed of the current state of our nation’s political system, but more than anything, I have felt on edge since Inauguration Day.

Since our new president was sworn in and even before then, peaceful activists have been portrayed as “violent” when they are the ones being oppressed. It is under this looming cloud of hateful rhetoric that I feel unsafe. Eugene has served as a fine place to demonstrate my most liberal fantasies of democratic socialism, including, but not limited to, a love for Bernie Sanders and a belief that climate change is real (which is, by the way, supported by credible and quantifiable research).

However, we must remember that not all places are so accepting of this peaceful resistance, making the importance of our actions even more pressing. As we move forward with a comprehensive goal of peace and social acceptance, I believe that it is fair to ask each other to stop making excuses and to start showing up.

Start showing up to city council meetings and environmental rallies. Start volunteering and advocating for that which you believe in. Start putting yourself in situations where you can promote social progress. People can be hesitant to stand for something; they are partially afraid to step into the power of their own voice, but mostly they are afraid to be swept up into a negatively generalized crowd.

The most powerful part of political action is the opportunity to expand your understanding of the impact of these social justice issues. The truth is that we all have much to learn from each other’s experiences, if we only stopped judging each other and listened to the legitimate concerns of our neighbors. Some claim that they do not have the time to be politically involved, and to those people, I say that you do have time. Everyone has exactly 24 hours each day, so if you “do not have time” to be politically engaged, it is because you are not prioritizing social justice.

As said by Martin Luther King Jr, “To accept passively an unjust system is to cooperate with that system; thereby the oppressed become as evil as the oppressor.”

Now the social regression of our country is being upheld by a silent majority, and the effects of this silence are harmful to us all.

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Here a water protector of a Standing Rock camp poses for a photo. Peaceful protesters occupied several camps in Cannon Ball, N. Dakota, before the site was cleared Feb. 23, 2017.

It is female bodies that are being unlawfully harassed on American streets late at night, in broad daylight even. It is the reproductive rights of female bodies that are being harshly regulated by male politicians. Let me remind you that the defunding of abortion and contraceptive services will not eliminate abortion, it will only prohibit safe abortion, according to the World Health Organization.

It is unarmed Native American bodies that have been blasted with water cannons and shot at with rubber bullets at Standing Rock. Indigenous people cannot as easily sit at home doing nothing because the reality of climate instability, specifically the unlawful infringement of tribal rights, is more than just an “annoyance” on the morning news. For Native Americans, social injustice has been constant. Although more patriotic people have claimed that America is a place where all can prosper, it has not been so for indigenous people, and it will not be so until political action is taken by us all.

It is the bodies of immigrant families who now face the possibility of deportation even though they have already established themselves in this country and deserve to continue their lives here. These people risked their lives and left everything they had ever known for a new life.

We were fortunate enough to be born in America and with that privilege comes the opportunity to promote social progress. When America speaks, the world listens, and I think it is about time we took a stand for social justice. This battle will not be easily won, but it is one worth fighting for.

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