Watch this comedian blast Congress for their inaction on gun control. This is amazeballs!
Watch this comedian blast Congress for their inaction on gun control. This is amazeballs!
Our country is reeling from another mass shooting — this time the worst in our nation’s history. Like the vast majority of the world, I’m utterly heartbroken. I cried several times yesterday watching the news. And I’m just so sick and tired of these types of tragedies happening.
However, there is always a silver lining to tragedy, and it usually centers around how much it brings people together. The ironic thing about these mass shootings is that they are born of hate and fear, yet the response is largely one of love and acceptance. Yesterday, thousands of people stood in line for hours in 93 degree heat to donate blood. Over $1 million has already been raised to help victims and their families. The world is standing in solidarity with Orlando and the LGBTQ community. If the sick fuck who committed this atrocity wanted to instill fear and hatred in our hearts, he failed quite miserably.
Of course some people are afraid. Obviously members of the LGBTQ community are scared as this attack may inspire similar attacks on them. But what we are seeing from most people is an outpouring of love, and love is the one and only answer to this senseless violence and hate.
Please, let’s choose to love one another. And when I say love I simply mean that you don’t wish anyone else any ill-will. You accept them for who they are and you let them live their life the way that makes them happiest. After all, our nation was founded on the belief that we are all entitled to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
I hear my parents say all the time, “What is this world coming to?” Well, that’s entirely up to us. If we continue to allow hate and fear to control us then the world will further spiral into chaos and violence. But if we choose to love another instead, humanity will consciously evolve and a new era will begin — an era of peace. Don’t laugh. Nothing is impossible unless you believe it to be. Peace is entirely possible, and the Millennial generation has the opportunity to begin to make that a reality. Wouldn’t that make for a hell of a legacy?
In the words of Thomas Paine, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my children may have peace.” If we all choose love, our children will have peace.
A young woman was brutally sexually assaulted at a party at Stanford University. She was passed out drunk when some despicable little shit heinously violated her. The sentence he received for this egregious crime — three months in jail and three years probation. Rightfully so, most people are outraged at this. I certainly am, and my outrage intensified exponentially when I read the victim’s statement that she read to her violator in court. But reading it wasn’t easy. I read the first few paragraphs and had to stop. I was already too upset to continue. I did eventually finish reading her heart-breaking statement, but I had to do so in pieces.
If you haven’t yet read her statement, you absolutely should. The detail she provides is oftentimes very upsetting, but is necessary in order to truly understand her trauma. That is one of the reasons why it is so powerful, because she articulately conveys her pain, suffering and extreme emotional distress. No matter how hard it is to get through, please read it.
There are so many things wrong with this situation, but the most glaring is that it shows just how strong rape culture is in this country. Rape culture has to do with the idea that a woman is somehow responsible for her sexual assault/rape because of the clothes she is wearing or because she had too much to drink. Thus, men aren’t entirely to blame when they sexually assault a woman, because what are men supposed to do when they see a woman wearing figure-flattering clothes, or who is extremely drunk? Not sexually assault or rape her? Come on — she’s totally asking for it. Men shouldn’t be expected to control themselves in these situations. Women should know better. In short, rape culture means that instead of blaming the man for raping a woman, we wonder what the woman possibly did to cause her rape.
Seriously, how can someone cause their own rape? The fact that our society actually believes this to be true in many cases is disgusting to say the very least. Let’s make one thing abundantly clear: the only person to blame for someone’s rape is the rapist. It’s that simple, but if you are in any way confused about this, check out the handy pie chart below. It doesn’t matter what the other person is wearing or what state of consciousness she (or he) is in. The only victim in this scenario is the person who was assaulted — the rapist is NEVER the victim. Or at least, this is how it should be. But as already stated, that is not the reality in this country.
As a young(ish) woman I constantly live in fear that something like this may happen to me. Do I wear figure-flattering clothes? Yes, sometimes I do. I’m a certified fitness trainer so I workout a lot, and as a result I have a very toned body. I am proud of how I look and I like to show it off sometimes. I don’t do it for male attention, I do it because it makes me feel good about myself. But I guess sometimes the clothes I wear “invite” gross and inappropriate comments from “men” who don’t know how to talk to women in a respectful way. And God forbid if I call them out on it. Then I’m called a femi-nazi or a bitch (or worse), and told to lighten up. And I’m told that if I don’t want the attention then I shouldn’t dress like that. So my only option is to wear frumpy clothes that hide my body so as not to draw unwanted male attention? The only thing more absurd than the rude, objectifying comments I get when I wear “sexy” clothes is the fact that some men think I’m actually wearing those clothes for male attention.
And do I like to go out and enjoy an adult beverage or two (or three or four, if I’m being honest) every now and again? Yep, sure do. Now, I usually keep it within reason, but I admit that I’ve been quite inebriated a few times in my 33 and 1/2 years on this planet. So I know how easy it is to lose control when you are drinking. It is dangerous for a lot of reasons. But one of those reasons should absolutely not be because you may get raped. Sex requires consent. If you are passed-out drunk, can’t talk without slurring your words, and/or can’t walk, you cannot consent to sex (or anything for that matter). So if someone has sex with you while you are in that state, they raped you. Again, it’s very simple.
It’s scary when I walk through a store by myself and I feel like I’m a deer surrounded by wolves who are preying on me. It’s degrading when I’m out for a run or walking down the street and men are beeping their horns at me and yelling disgusting comments out the window. It’s frustrating when strange men feel they have the right to tell me I need to “smile more”. It’s infuriating that when I’m at a bar and some idiot is hitting on me that I am expected to smile and be nice to him no matter how gross, disrespectful or inappropriate he may be. All of this is demeaning and humiliating, and the sad reality is that women live with this shit every damn day.
But none of what I have dealt with comes anywhere close to what this young women went through. Her life was permanently altered in a brutal and horrifying way. I know how awful it feels to be sexually objectified. Being sexually violated and assaulted is a level of pain, humiliation and degradation I can’t fathom. This is why her statement was so hard to read — because she manages to help you understand this. But without a doubt the pain and horror I felt reading it is nothing compared to the pain she has endured everyday since her attack.
And with the extremely lenient sentence her attacker received, there has been no justice. He might as well have been able to walk free. And why was his sentence so lenient? Because he is a good swimmer with such a bright future, and being in jail may have too much of a negative effect on him. What a fucking joke. He’s a rapist who happens to be a good swimmer. And his swimming abilities are completely irrelevant to anything involving this situation. He committed a heinous crime and his punishment should fit the crime. Why does anything else matter? But clearly, being a good swimmer with a bright future means that you shouldn’t have to deal with the trauma of being in jail. What about the trauma of being sexually assaulted? What about his victim’s future? Why are we protecting the perpetrator more than the victim? When you read the victim’s statement you will see that in actuality she was the one who was put on trial — not the rapist. It is ludicrous, disgusting and absolutely infuriating.
However, the leniency of the sentence has to do with more than the fact that he’s a good swimmer with a bright future. This brings us to the next big issue with this situation — had Brock Turner (the rapist) been black or Latino (or any race or ethnicity other than white), he likely would have had the book thrown at him. But since he is a white kid of privilege, he basically gets off Scott-free. And please, white people who live in an alternate reality, spare me the angry emails about how white privilege doesn’t exist. This whole situation proves without a shadow of a doubt that white privilege exists. Brock Turner’s race shouldn’t matter, but it 100% does. Just like it shouldn’t matter that he is a good swimmer with a bright future. He — and only he — ruined that future when he sexually assaulted an unconscious woman.
When I hear about things like this, one of my first thoughts is what shitty parents these kids must have. It is rare that a child who was raised by decent, responsible parents commits serious crimes like this. And when Brock’s father wrote a letter stating that three months in prison is a steep price to pay for “20 minutes of action”, as he so eloquently put it, we all learned that yes, indeed, Brock Turner has really shitty parents (at least his father is a real piece of work). Not that Brock isn’t to blame. He was an adult when he committed these crimes, and thus he alone is at fault. But had Brock been raised to respect others and to take accountability for his actions (which he clearly was not), I highly doubt he would have ever assaulted that woman — or any woman. Brock’s father believes that his son is the real victim in this situation. His son, who was convicted of three felony charges of sexual assault by a jury of 12 of his peers, apparently deserves our sympathy. On behalf of all of decent human beings, I would like to extend a giant FUCK YOU to Brock and his piece of shit father.
This all boils down to a deep societal issue where victim-blaming is the norm. Women should not to have fight so hard to defend their bodies, their safety and their dignity. Victims of sexual assault and rape, whether women or men, shouldn’t have to defend what they were doing or wearing when they were assaulted. It is never okay to sexually assault someone. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER! That is the societal attitude we should have, and that is the ultimate reason why the statement that this victim wrote is so powerful and so important: she is forcing us to face the fact that rape culture very much exists, and it is time we change our attitudes and, in turn, change our system for addressing it.
We live in a country where nearly a quarter of female college students is sexually assaulted every year — and that is just the ones who report it. We live in a country where rapists are given sympathy because of how a jail sentence might negatively impact them. Where we teach young women to hide their bodies and to watch how much they drink instead of teaching young men to not sexually assault women. Where when a women is sexually assaulted we ask her a long list of asinine questions to make sure she wasn’t partially to blame. THIS NEEDS TO CHANGE, AND IT NEEDS TO CHANGE STARTING NOW!!!!!
I believe that we are all obligated to make the world a little better for the next generation. For me, that includes making sure that future generations of women won’t have to deal with being sexually objectified on a daily basis, and to live in constant fear that one bad night of drinking may dramatically alter their lives in a horrifyingly traumatic way. Neither of these things should be a reality, yet they both unequivocally are.
To the victim of this horrible crime I want to say this: Thank you for sharing your story with the world. Thank you for not sparing any details of your pain, suffering, humiliation and degradation, as this helped to give a voice to millions of nameless, faceless women and men of sexual assault and rape. And just as important, you helped so many people understand just how much we need to change our attitudes about this issue. As traumatic as this has been for you, you still found a way to do something positive with it. That is so courageous — and selfless. You said you wanted to be a lighthouse for other victims of sexual assault. Well, the light you are shining right now is as bright as the sun. You are powerful beyond measure. I cannot articulate how much I admire your bravery. I’m so sorry that you have to deal with the pain of this everyday, but please know that I and millions of others are in awe of what an amazing woman you are, and we stand beside you with unrelenting love and support. I may never learn your name, but I will remember you for the rest of my life. I will forever remember your resiliency and strength, and how you used your traumatic story to help change this country for the better. Thank you.
To Brock Turner, just know this: the universe is all about balance and it always, always corrects any and all imbalances. Some people call it Karma. Call it whatever you want but considering you were spared the hefty jail sentence you deserved, I’m sure the universe is cooking up something real special for you. Looks like we are already getting a glimpse of it. I’m sure I’m being overly optimistic when I say this, but I hope that one day you truly realize what you have done and that you have genuine remorse for your actions. And maybe you will use this as an opportunity to educate other young men about respecting women. You can redeem yourself to some degree, but first you need to own up to what you did. I highly doubt you ever will, but I’ll still hold out hope for you.
Millennials, our generation can be the first to substantially change how our society views sexual assault, and how our judicial system handles this issue — and we absolutely should. For far too long we have blamed the victim. It’s time we placed the blame on the only person who is to blame: the rapist.
My apologies for the recent absence. I moved residences and started a new full-time job all at the same time so I’ve been a busy little bee lately. Hoping to get back to blogging more regularly now that I’m getting settled. There is certainly lots to talk about!
Here’s a friendly reminder to vote this November. I’ll be blogging about this a lot in the coming months.
Just a few days ago U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch threw down the gauntlet on North Carolina and its outrageous discriminatory “bathroom” bill. The U.S. government is suing the state of North Carolina and its Governor, Pat McCrory, over this bullshit law because it violates federal civil rights laws. When a state passes a law that blatantly discriminates against specific groups of people for bogus and ludicrous reasons, the federal government has the right and the DUTY to step in and do something about it. Bravo to the Department of Justice and the Obama Administration for doing the right thing.
When I watched the video, it brought tears to my eyes. It was a powerful, genuine and passionate speech. On top of articulately explaining why the “bathroom” law violates civil rights, Attorney General Lynch talked about how our nation was founded on the ideal of equality, and highlighted the progress the country has made over the years in moving towards equality for all, despite many difficult struggles along the way.
If you are a member of the LGBT community, I hope you know that most of us proudly stand with you in solidarity. You are NOT alone.
Please, take 7 minutes to watch this video. It was a historic moment.
Millennials are the most discussed and studied generation in history. Well, I don’t know that for a fact but I would be shocked if we weren’t. Unfortunately, the majority of what is said about us is either negative or contradictory (i.e. one article says we are smart and highly motivated, but the vast majority of articles say that we are stupid and lazy). Most of it is just people’s opinion that is not backed up with factual evidence, so if someone is doing research on Millennials they will have to sort through a whole host of BS in order to find any real information of value.
I have a page here at The Millennial Legacy that briefly discusses Millennials, as well as subpages that give in-depth reviews of defining characteristics of Millennials. In fact, according to Google Analytics, the most visited and shared page of this website is the “What is a Millennial” page. So that goes to show you just how much people are trying to figure us out — you know, because we are such an enigma.
Mic, a Millennial-run online news source, just posted a good little video to Facebook summing up the contradictory and confusing information about who exactly are Millennials. Apparently Baby Boomers (who just so happen to be our parents) aren’t too fond of us.
When I decided to start this blog, I really only had one objective: to inspire and empower members of the Millennial Generation to build a better future. Throughout the last five years, this website has been a labor of love. Many times I have faltered in my dedication to it, but I’ve never completely abandoned it.
You might surmise that my periods of apathy were because I felt that there was no hope for the future. With all the terrible things happening in the world today, and with the declining state of our country, there is a pervading attitude of doom and gloom. But the tough times that we live in are actually what motivate me, and are a big part of the reason why I have always gravitated back to my modest little blog.
I just cannot sit on my hands and do nothing as my country and the world continue down a path of destruction, especially because I know that humanity is capable of so much more than this. A better world is possible, if we believe that it is. However, I do understand why so many people are discouraged and cynical. All you ever hear about is the bad stuff — the “news” hardly ever covers the good stuff.
Nonetheless, while I understand the cynicism, I do not agree with that mindset, as it is only holding us back from trying to make things better — from evolving and awakening to our true potential as a species. We need to change our attitude from one of fear and despair to one of hope and resolve.
Truthfully, there are many good reasons to feel hopeful for the future. I could write a 50,000 word blog post on it. But in the interest of time, below I’ve outlined three simple yet powerful reasons why we shouldn’t let fear and cynicism get the better of us.
(1) While there is some substantial negativity in the world, there is far more goodness. It is so important that we don’t lose sight of this. Think about it: there are over seven billion people on this planet, and probably about 90% of us are decent people with good intentions and generous hearts. Very few people are downright cruel and immoral, and even though some people make bad decisions, most of them are not inherently bad people.
Because of the age of the internet, social media and twenty-four hour news channels, we have constant exposure to negative news. It really grinds my gears how much the media focuses on the negative, because in truth there is more good happening in the world than there is bad. So we cannot allow the lopsided nature of the news to skew our outlook on the world.
Think about the kind, everyday gestures of regular people: paying for someone’s meal when they don’t have enough money, giving a stranger a hug when they see that they are sad and crying, assisting someone who is in physical pain, volunteering their time to help the homeless or sick patients and their families in local hospitals, walking dogs at a local animal shelter, planting trees and cleaning up public parks, volunteering as free tutors for local school children. These are common things that the vast majority of us do (at least every once in a while), and we do it because we genuinely care about one another and have an innate desire to make the world a better place — whether we realize that is a main motivator or not.
And even when horrific things do happen, focus on how the majority of the world responds. Take the recent terrorist attacks, for example. The overwhelming consensus afterwards is always that we must rise above the fear and hate and come together as one. Millions of people donate to funds and charities that help the victims, and billions of us share kind, loving words of support and solidarity on social media. Yes, some people use these events for the purposes of fear-mongering and generating more intolerance and hate (like certain presidential candidates), but the vast majority of us choose to do the opposite. We choose love, compassion and empathy. Remember this. Focus on this. Engage in this.
Fear, not hate, is the real reason why there are bad people in the world. The fear manifests as hate, intolerance and cruelty. Some people are afraid of anyone who doesn’t look them, think like them or act like them. Instead of embracing and celebrating humanity’s diversity, they are scared of it. And sometimes their fear is so great that they will go to extreme lengths to eliminate those that they falsely believe threaten them and their way of life.
Fear controls our ego, and our egos (aka our minds) have controlled humans since the “dawn of humanity”. But finally people are starting to awaken and become conscious of the fact that the labels we give ourselves — like those based on religion or nationality — are meaningless in the grand scheme of things. We are recognizing that fear, hate, intolerance and ignorance is a recipe for extinction.
Know that humanity is inherently good. That is why during our evolution of consciousness we have become more loving, peaceful, compassionate and empathetic. And when we choose to embrace these positive qualities, we are putting that positive energy out into the universe, intensifying and strengthening it. Positive energy has a much higher and stronger vibration than negative energy. So the more compassionate we are, the more we raise our vibration, both individually and collectively.
When we respond to acts of terror, or any act of cruelty and violence, with corresponding fear, intolerance and hate we are only giving more negative energy to the actions of those very few people who genuinely wish to do harm to others. We are, in effect, fueling their fire. But if we choose love and compassion, thoughtfulness and peace then we are shining a bright light of positivity on the darkness of their hearts. Darkness cannot live where light shines. So shine on my friends! Open your hearts to light and love — it’s the only way to overcome fear and hate.
(2) The problems we face are numerous and, in some cases, quite dire, but they aren’t insurmountable. Keep in mind that humanity has overcome tough times before (e.g. both World Wars). And in its short history our nation has faced many periods of crisis. We didn’t give up then and we sure as hell shouldn’t now.
The one thing we must never do is give up hope. When hope is lost, all is lost. For example, if you faced an obstacle that was extremely difficult, but you believed you could succeed, you would still try. In the end you may not overcome the obstacle, but dang-it you would give it your all! However, if you didn’t think you could succeed (thus, you were hopeless) then you most likely wouldn’t even try — because what’s the point, right? As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
When the founding generation of Americans waged war against the British Empire, they knew that their chances of victory weren’t great. It was a huge risk, but they believed in themselves and their cause, and even though they had little money, a mostly untrained army, were constantly short on military supplies, clothing and food, and had suffered massive defeats early on in the war, they persevered and ultimately won. They had hope — no matter how badly the war was going — and that is what fueled their resolve. If at any time they had lost hope then our great country wouldn’t exist.
The issues we face today are pretty extreme, but they are also mostly of our doing. If we got ourselves into this mess then we can certainly find ways to get out of this mess! But first and foremost we must believe that we can, because without hope, we won’t even try. So stop being a Negative Nancy!
It sounds so simple and cliche but hope is what keeps us driving forward. This one little thing packs a powerful punch. It fuels our faith in ourselves and our cause(s). Without it, we wouldn’t have progressed this much as a species. Hope is what gave us electricity, automobiles, modern medicine, space exploration, and most of all has guided humanity towards more peace, love and empathy.
The energy behind hope is unrelentingly positive. That is why it is so powerful! When you truly believe that you can accomplish something, you will do whatever it takes to make it happen. So have hope in the goodness and inventiveness of humanity. Believe that we can overcome the obstacles we face. Believe that we will change this world for the better. As long as we still have hope, there is nothing we can’t do.
(3) We have a choice — always, because of free will — and the future of our country and the world depends on how we choose. Will we choose hope or despair? All in all, everything boils down to these two choices. If we choose hope we give ourselves a fighting chance for a better future, not just for us but for forthcoming generations (i.e. your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. — and don’t you think we owe it to them to at least try?).
If we choose despair then the world will continue to spiral into pandemonium. The problems we face today will worsen to the point of no return. We will have wasted an incredible opportunity to push humanity into a new era of peace, prosperity and sustainability. We will have chosen to let fear and cynicism win.
Truly, the consequences of our choice are massive. One choice leads to a better world, a better country and a better future; the other leads to total chaos. And remember, the problems we face can still be fixed. It will take a lot of hard work (and teamwork), dedication and fortitude, but we can do it.
I know it’s tempting to give into cynicism, but please, please don’t. Cynicism is a nasty disease that invades and rots our soul. It has incredibly negative energy that makes it like a blackhole, sucking up everything around it and not letting any light through. At the root of cynicism is deep, profound fear. In other words, cynicism is our ego on steroids. So do yourself, our country and the future of the world a favor and check your cynicism. Choose hope and love instead.
I have no idea how many people will read this post — maybe a few hundred, maybe a few million. I do hope it’s the latter, and I hope that those who read it will be more conscious of the goodness of humanity, of the power of hope and of the fact that we can choose to make the world a better place.
I know that the Millennial Generation is capable of changing the United States and the world in a profoundly positive way. I believe that with every fiber of my being, and I want to do whatever I can to reach as many Millennials as possible, helping them to believe this too. I will never stop trying to inspire and empower Millennials to build a better future. That is my passion, which is why I know it’s my soul’s purpose. And that is the ultimate reason why I’ve never given up on this website — because my soul just won’t let me.
I won’t give up on this website just like I won’t give up on the Millennial Generation. We all have a soul’s purpose that is unique to each individual, but it is also true that every generation has a collective destiny of its own. For Millennials, our destiny is to change the world. A daunting task, yes, but an incredibly rewarding one. And our generational legacy depends on whether we fulfill our destiny or not.
So please, choose hope over cynicism and love over fear. One day, when all of us have made this choice, the world will be at peace.
The Best Exercises to Shrink Anxiety & Stress
By: Lauren Byrd
If you exercise regularly, then you probably know the feeling of those awesome endorphins that are released after a workout. If you work a stressful job or deal with anxiety, sometimes all you need is a little activity to get your mind off your problems and clear your head.
Since Millennials tend to be more anxious and depressed than other generations, committing to a steady workout routine can help combat this issue.
Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Check out some exercises below that will boost your energy and provide some stress relief.
When you think of a stress-relieving exercise, yoga is probably one of the first to come to mind. With a series of moving and stationary poses as well as deep-breathing techniques, yoga is sure to cleanse your mind and spirit. Yoga provides a great stretch and keeps your body relaxed.
Yoga poses can also be a great way to cool down and stretch after an intense training session. I try to always do the cat, cow, and the child’s pose. There are many benefits to practicing yoga like improving balance and posture as well.
Outdoor activities like running, walking, biking, climbing and swimming can provide the change of scenery you may need to relieve some stress. Staring at a computer screen all day at work can be tiring, so getting outside to enjoy the fresh air can help clear your mind.
I think that we are spending less and less time outside as we are becoming more reliant on technology, and we need to get back in the habit of enjoying the outdoors.
Join a Rec Sports Team
Many cities have adult group sports and leagues that you can join, such as an adult kickball league. A rec sports team can be a great way to surround yourself with other people your age who want to have some fun and get some exercise.
Don’t make yourself think that rec sports teams are only for kids, adults can have fun too! Being on a rec team provides you with more social opportunities and lots of fun with just a touch of competition. Sports leagues unite people through fitness and can be a way to get your group of friends together to catch up and exercise at the same time!
If you can’t commit to a regular workout routine every day, try to at least get up from your desk and take a walk in the morning and afternoon. Recently, I have decided to commit to walking around my apartment complex for around 15-30 minutes. Sometimes it’s more and sometimes it’s less. One thing is for sure though – I always feel so much better and relaxed after taking a quick walk.
There are many benefits to exercising, but I think that the stress relief it provides is by far one of the most rewarding.
What are some exercises that you do when you are stressed? I would love to hear about them!
By Guest Author: Lauren Byrd
Lauren is a contributing writer for Orangetheory Fitness. She regularly produces content for a variety of lifestyle and fitness blogs. She loves to spend her free time traveling and being active.
Our democracy is in serious trouble. It is on life support, clinging to hope that it will be revived. But this isn’t something that happened suddenly and without warning. Slowly, our democracy has eroded. The sad reason for this: Americans have been ignoring their duties as citizens of a democracy for decades now.
Democracy is not a spectator sport. You cannot sit on the sidelines and allow others to have control while you bitch and complain about the awful state of the country. In a democracy, the people have to participate. They have to vote, they have to be informed of the issues, they have to be vocal about what they want and don’t want, and about the issues that are important to them. Our leaders are accountable to us. But if we aren’t aware of the facts surrounding important issues, and if we don’t vote, and if we don’t communicate with our representatives, then we are failing to do our duty as citizens of a democracy.
The citizens are the lifeblood of the Republic. The buck stops with us — not the president, or Congress. We, the people, are in charge. The problem is we have willing relinquished our control over our democracy and handed it over to lobbyists and special interests, who, as we all know, have a stranglehold on Washington today.
So we have two choices: we can continue to believe that nothing will ever change in Washington, and thus remain apathetic and disengaged; OR, we can take our power back. Because the truth is it isn’t Washington that needs to change, it’s the American people that need to change.
In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “Things do not change; we change.” And as Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” A democracy is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. So WE THE PEOPLE need to change if we want to save our democracy.
It is well known how much power lobbyists and special interests have in Washington. But how did they get all of this power? As already noted, the American people gave it to them. Think about it. If we voted in higher numbers then our political leaders would have to listen to us, because our votes are what keep politicians in office. Big oil can give Politician A hundreds of thousands of dollars, but if Politician A doesn’t listen to his constituents, he likely won’t get their votes. And without votes, Politician A loses his job. However, if his constituents don’t vote, he doesn’t need to worry. He’ll gladly take the contribution from Big Oil and work on their behalf.
Since Americans aren’t voting in high enough numbers to rival the money of lobbyists and special interests, our politicians work for them, not the American people. Take the NRA, for example. The vast majority of Americans –and even a large majority of NRA members — believe that our nation needs to strengthen gun laws. However, Washington is highly unlikely to do so because the NRA’s money is more powerful than the voters — simply because not enough people vote. Honestly, how else would you explain the power the NRA has in Washington? The only thing more powerful than money is votes.
To further prove why votes are so powerful, let’s examine why our government spends over four times as much money on Americans over 60 than Americans under 30. It’s simple: Americans over 60 vote in much higher numbers than young people. Therefore older Americans are a much bigger threat to politicians’ incumbency than young Americans, so politicians focus on — and give more federal money to — issues that are more of a concern to older Americans.
As you can see, one of the easiest and most effective ways Americans can begin to take our power back is to start voting — in EVERY election. Even those pesky midterms, folks. Congress’ incumbency rate is 90%; however Congress has about a 12% approval rating. How is it that there is such a high incumbency rate for a group of people that consistently gets a grade of F- for job performance? It’s because people don’t care enough to vote them out of office. If we don’t like what they are doing or how they are representing us, then come Election Day we need to fire their good-for-nothing asses.
And yes, I know that oftentimes — in fact most of the time — we are forced to pick the lesser of two evils on Election Day, but that is a perfect transition into my next point: we need to be more involved in the political process. Our participation in our democracy isn’t exclusive to voting every two years. We have to keep ourselves informed of the important issues facing our country and the world, and we need to know where the candidates stand on these issues. Furthermore, we should write letters or emails to our elected officials, call their offices, attend town hall meetings, and even become lobbyists ourselves.
Many Americans are dangerously uninformed and/or misinformed. This is such a critical problem because the less informed we are, the more our democracy suffers. Ignorance is like kryptonite to a democracy. If we don’t know the facts surrounding important issues — like healthcare or fiscal policy or terrorism — then how we can know that our leaders are making the best policy decisions regarding these issues?
What is even more dangerous is that people tend to form opinions on issues even when they don’t know anything about the issue in question. And then when presented with facts that contradict their opinion, thus proving they are wrong, most people will still continue to believe that they are right. This is called cognitive dissonance, and unfortunately many Americans are guilty of it.
In order to arm ourselves from ineffective and incompetent leaders, we need to make sure we are staying informed. And then as informed voters we need to actually vote. And after we vote we then need to remain aware of the decisions our elected leaders are making. If we don’t like those decisions we should tell them. If there is an important vote coming up, we need to let our leaders know how we feel about the issue. If there is an issue that is important to us and we want our representatives to pay attention to it, then we need to tell them. This is not only our right it is our duty.
It amazes me how many times I hear people say that their vote doesn’t count, or that Washington will never change, and that all politicians are the same so it doesn’t matter who is in office. I know that our leadership in Washington right now is about as useful as an umbrella in a monsoon, but before we point fingers and accuse them of not doing their jobs, what about the job we are doing as citizens? If we were graded on job performance we would get an F- as well.
My point is that we can’t get mad at our political leadership for not doing their job when we don’t do our job either. We can’t be complacent bystanders in our democracy — we have to be active participants. I’m sick of hearing that things will never change in Washington. Things will never change unless we make them — because change sure as hell isn’t going to come from the politicians! The way things are right now — with low voter participation and a very high incumbency rate — that greatly benefits them. They want things to stay exactly as they are. If we want change we have to be the catalyst — we have to be the change.
When a government is ruled by the people, the people have to be involved. We aren’t involved, at least not anywhere near the level that we should be involved. Progress in a democracy can’t be made when we are sitting on our hands, bitching and complaining about how bad things have gotten. If we want things to change then we need to roll up our sleeves and get to work on making things better. We, the people, are in charge. We, the people, are what really make our country strong. In a healthy, thriving democracy the people are well informed, they are active in their civic duties, and they assert their authority as the true rulers.
Right now, we have the exact kind of democracy that we deserve — a failing one. If we don’t want to vote, if we don’t want to keep ourselves informed, if we refuse to listen to facts and reason and logic, if we don’t want to keep our leaders in check then WE THE PEOPLE are responsible for the damage done to our democracy. This isn’t the government’s fault. It’s our fault. Being citizens of a democracy takes constant work and it is also a large responsibility. If we don’t take this responsibility seriously then our democracy will most certainly suffer as a result.
So, my friends, let’s make 2016 the year that we take our power back and restore our democracy. The alternative is giving up the little power we have left, and I don’t know about you but that is simply unacceptable to me.
Please, if you agree with what I’ve wrote, then share this post. Help me spread the word. Let’s start a movement to restore our beloved democracy.
Welcome to The Millennial Legacy! The Millennial Generation (1982-2004) is coming of age during a time of severe crisis. From extreme economic uncertainty, to societal upheaval, to perpetual international chaos, today's world is full of immense challenges. But whenever there are challenges, there are also opportunities. And that is what the Millennial Generation has at its disposal...an incredible opportunity to change the country and the world in a very positive and lasting way. How this young generation responds to the myriad of issues it faces will largely shape the legacy they leave to posterity. This website is dedicated to making Millennials aware of their generation's destiny to move the world toward more peace, tolerance and sustainability.
I'm honored that you have taken the time to visit my little website, and I hope that matter what your age or what generation you belong to, you are inspired to do your part to make our world a better place. If you want to contribute a blog post, or if you just want to write me an email, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gratitude and peace,