Take action in politics now

Sabrina Bohn
Protesting the Muslim ban, citizens rally in front of the Federal Court House in downtown St. Louis.

If there were three words that described my feelings when discussing politics, they would be anger, frustration and sadness.

In the last couple of years, I have become more aware of injustices, and I realized how much the world was suffering. Of course there is always good, but looking at the bad made me want to do something about it. The problem was, I had no idea what I could do. I felt like, as a teenager, I did not have much say regarding what happened. I started thinking of things that I could do to make a difference, and I realized that getting involved in politics is so much more than just voting. I joined political clubs, donated to charities, lobbied my local government officials and participated in marches and protests.

When I attended the St. Louis Women’s March, I saw it as a chance to finally take action for my beliefs. I was surrounded by people of all different races, genders and ages, marching towards the arch, and I started to believe that change can happen. No matter what side you take politically, it is important to start speaking up about it. You can have a voice in government, so do not just sit around feeling helpless. Educate yourself, form opinions and take responsibility for what you believe in.

  1. Stay up to date on current events. Read books and news articles involving politics and discuss issues with your friends and family. As you become familiar with current issues in the world, you will recognize situations of injustice both in media and in real life. If you are educated and informed, you’ll feel more confident to take responsibility and stand up against these situations.
  1. As much as possible, try to inform others of issues you think are important. If you are respectful and nonjudgmental about other’s beliefs, people will listen to you and try to understand your point of view.  All you have to say is, “Hey, you probably shouldn’t say something like that, and here’s why.” By educating just one person about issues you feel are important, you can make a positive impact.  Small acts like this seem unimportant, but in reality, when more people are aware of world issues, they become more cautious of what they say and how they act. By simply talking to people, you can influence them.
  1. Consider joining forces with like-minded people. Feminist Club and Social Justice League are great politically-active school clubs that help you get involved in marches and fundraisers. These clubs also introduce new issues to discuss and help to bring different perspectives to the table, which is so important when educating yourself about the world. Being able to meet with like-minded peers helps to build your confidence and lets you know that you are not alone in your beliefs.
  1. As you find issues that you really care about, it is important to donate to organizations that help with those issues. Some of the places I have donated to include the  American Civil Liberties Union, International Rescue Committee and Standing Rock. The St. Louis Women’s March also has a page dedicated to important charities. Whatever the most important issues are to you, there is bound to be a charity involved with that cause that you can donate to. Even if you donate a small amount, it can make a difference.
  1. To take direct action, contact your senators and representatives. Sometimes the government seems so far away, but in reality, you have the ability to influence your local government, which can then go on to influence the entire country. Your local government is supposed to represent you, so it is important to let them know what you and your community needs. This may seem intimidating, but websites like 5 Calls provide scripts for a variety of different issues to call your senators and representatives about.
  1. There are countless demonstrations to join in on. After more than two weeks of Trump being in office, there have already been protests and marches around the world to express disagreement with the actions he has taken so far. When I went to the Women’s March and the March for Immigrants, Muslims and Refugees, I united with people who felt motivated to influence politics. 

    Lydia Harter
    Marching towards the Arch, people from all over St. Louis participate in the Women’s March to advocate for women’s rights.

Although some protests and marches are viewed as chaotic or violent, the ones I went to were safe and made me feel optimistic about the future because so many people were prepared to take action. Whether you agree or disagree with Trump’s actions, it is important to speak up about those opinions and motivate others to do the same.

Discussing issues with your family and friends and on social media is great, but protests and marches make a bigger statement and people are more likely to take notice.  At this point, if you truly want change, you must find a way to participate in these events. If you text “women” to 90975, you can be notified by the STL Women’s March organizers when there is a march or rally in St. Louis.

I believe that making your voice heard is extremely important if you ever want to make a difference. Whenever I have educated others, contacted my local government, donated or attended marches, I have felt so happy knowing that I’ve made a difference. We all have the responsibility to stand up for our beliefs and create a future that we want to live in, and now is the time to take action.