By Peter Edgar
If there’s anything that has driven the last year and a half, it is fear. Whatever race, gender, religious affiliation, political party or socioeconomic bracket you belong to, the rhetoric surrounding the events in 2015 and 2016 (and even carrying over into this year) have targeted you with language steeped in fear, despair, anger, and false information.
With the world literally at our fingertips, we as college students have been among the first to experience this level of informational input in an election.
All of the candidates involved harnessed the power of Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter, just to name a few—and so did the rest of the world—in an effort to influence the way you think and feel.
Unfortunately, however, even the most simple facts, the most mundane details, and the most basic of human rights (a right to information) have been violated.
I’m not here to cast blame on any one group or party. We are all responsible for what we let happen. We not only have the rights to truth, but we have a duty to uphold it.
In the next few years, however, as in the past, we have a right (and, I would argue, a responsibility) to hope. It is not simply enough to place blind faith in a system, or a person or a party. Time after time, history proves the dangers of such an action.
Hope determines that there is a grounds for change—something that many people, in their despair and anger, have ruled out entirely.
When we are convinced that nothing—or no one—will ever change, we immediately become suspicious of any indication that things could get better. This is horribly destructive and, honestly, literally depressing.
Media capitalizes (word choice intended) on fear. We need to hold people accountable for the trash they spew, not in the form of a scathing comment but in the shape of a personal email or quiet phone call. I promise, if you look hard enough, you’ll find a way to contact them. Don’t incriminate, converse or prove someone’s negative assumption of you.
If you believe something, prove it with solid facts and reliable sources, just as you would in persuasive paper on campus.
Language is a powerful tool. We need to take it back. Hold your family, your friends and your elected officials to a higher standard.
Encourage, exhort, and lift up other people with your words. Engage respectfully with people in a place where true, productive conversations can happen.
If the setting is wrong, find one that is conducive to growth. If you believe that someone doesn’t understand you, the answer is not blocking them out. The solution is letting them in.
Hope is the most powerful tool we have. It influences the way we speak, the way we treat others, and the way we feel.
As someone who struggles with severe anxiety, hope keeps me functioning. One oughtn’t stop at accommodating and coping—to quote Dr. King’s command, “hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”