Resist the temptations of apathy
However, I do believe she brings up a valid point. This frustration with our lack of activism has manifested itself in the form of Daily Jolt postings recently. This is not purely an Amherst problem. It is a problem with our generation and the way we view things. As one of the few students who is very politically active on campus, I can only speculate as to what is stopping the rest of you from adopting the same attitude. As I see it, there are a few possible explanations: laziness/apathy, ignorance or cynicism.
Most people would naturally conclude that people do not want to be involved in politics because they do not want to put the effort into it or they do not care. From my experiences so far, I observed that dedication and involvement in activities is not a problem here. Athletes are willing to sacrifice countless hours in the gym and on the fields to win a game. They will even get up hours earlier than the rest of the student body on Saturdays. Members of singing groups are also willing to spend many hours preparing for a performance. Although there does appear to be some laziness towards walking to Valentine or to classes in poor weather, I believe this is not a widespread problem. In general, I think students’ constant griping makes them appear lazy while their actions indicate otherwise. Politics affects everything we do in life, so I find it hard to swallow that people would not care about issues that directly affect them. Although laziness is often cited as a reason why people do not vote, I do not really accept this reason. It takes very little effort to register to vote. Basically, you just have to fill out a form which should take all of two minutes.
Our esteemed, outgoing President Tom Gerety obviously believed that the problem was ignorance. He recently brought up the proposal during his first-year seminar that all students should get a free delivery of the New York Times to their dorms. This way, students would be informed about the world around them and would not fall into the “Amherst bubble.” In our little college community, we are secluded and insulated from the world around us.
But I reject the notion that this contributes to our lack of political participation. While we may be protected from certain events in our hometown (I was definitely relieved that I did not have to deal with the sniper), everyone here is well educated and informed about the events going on around us.
By process of elimination, we are now left with cynicism. While the previously mentioned reasons for not participating may apply to some people, I believe cynicism is the leading reason they do not participate. At this age, we should be idealistic and believe that we can change the world. Instead, we are pessimistic and primarily concerned about our own futures. Our negative view from politics stems from all the recently emerging scandals-Watergate, Iran-Contra, Abscam, Whitewater and the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, to name a few. In the face of all these scandals, it is hard to have faith in the American system. However, if we believe that all politicians are corrupt, greedy thieves, we will never be able to effect change.
The only way to make politicians listen to our problems is to get involved. We must write the letters, make the phone calls and vote to make our views heard. One of the closest and most important elections in many years occurred yesterday and I am willing to bet that most of you did not participate in it. Two of the biggest issues in this election year were social security and prescription drugs. Can you guess why these were the hot topics? The reason is simple. The elderly vote in the highest numbers. Meanwhile, the number of people ages 18-24 voting are steadily dropping.
We must not let this trend continue. Your parents and teachers may have told you that you are the future of this country. Well, we are now adults. We are the present of this country. Let us act now before it is too late.