Photo credit: lettawren via / CC BY

Photo credit: lettawren via / CC BY

We’re millennials. We haven’t lived through a war fought on our turf. We haven’t rebelled to join a revolution of new-age rock and roll. We haven’t joined an anti-war movement or burned our draft cards. We haven’t picketed for the right to vote and burned our bras. We haven’t experienced segregation first hand. We grew up knowing that we could drive, buy expensive things, go to whatever school we wanted, worship however we wanted, and date whoever we wanted to date.

But these are privileges of the most sacred kind. Generations of people that came before us fought long and hard – sacrificing their lives – so that we could live in the world that we do today. And yet, these sacrifices are something that we often forget. We have a perspective of the world that is forward-thinking and progressive, with little appreciation or true understanding of the history that got us here. How progressive can we really be if we don’t understand the roots of the movements we try to build on?

So here we are today, facing some of the most controversial, partisan issues today that we may ever face. Every decision we make – what we believe in, who we vote for, how we treat other people –  will determine what this country looks like in the years to come. This 2016 presidential election falls in the wake of warped media agendas and a lack of real consideration for each other’s values. We have to learn how to express what we care about in ways that don’t involve violence, spiteful language, or bigotry. Now is not the time to throw up our hands and curse at crooked politics. If we see a problem, it is now our responsibility to fix it. The blame can no longer fall upon our parents or grandparents. It’s up to us.

The only evil that will infect the United States of America – a country founded on the ideals of freedom, independence, and equality – will be the evil that we allow in. This year’s election is our chance as millennials to make a real difference. We are voting for the person who will run our country for the next four or eight years – years that we will spend creating our own lives here. Be as cynical as you want about corrupt politics and email scandals and fake politicians, but have a solution. Know what you want out of these next few years. Know what you want your future – and the future of those around you – to look like. Listen to each other. We have a responsibility to ourselves, and to the next generations, to shape the world.

So have an opinion. Read a news article that you may not agree with. Look at both sides, as frustrating as that may be. What is more frustrating is for no one to read at all, no one to think at all, and still have everyone yelling over each other to make the same point.