We Can Be the Agents of Change We Always Talk About

By Luis Ceja (Age 17, Dallas, TX)

Shock: the one word I could use to describe it. The results, while known to me, didn’t really set in until the morning after, when I got to my school and saw so many of my friends crying. It was hard to believe this country could elect a man who so many saw as racist and a threat to their families. Or one that would make many of my friends the targets of unwarranted searches and threats of deportation. So, like many people, I was overcome with emotion regarding where our country stood at this moment. 

With this emotion, though, I needed a coping mechanism and I found it in the numbers. Looking into the kind of voters that showed up this time and who they voted for. What I found, though, left me with a couple things. First this country was going to be extremely divided regardless of who was elected. So the president’s task - bringing everyone back into the fold of our democracy - was going to be astronomical in any circumstance. Many people voted out of emotion over mind. The issues favored one candidate, but people’s feelings favored another one. If you believe that your government is already failing you, taking a huge risk doesn’t seem that risky at all. In my opinion, though, we’re all going to have to pay the price for that decision. 

These shocking results have had varied reactions, but among most young people, like me, they have been negative. I have seen a lot of people talk about how they want to leave the country and move to Canada. Or that they’re giving up on our system, or want to change the outcome of our election. Yet all of that talk is counter-productive. We can’t continue to look at the past, believing it will change. We can only look forward to what lies ahead. A new person might be in office, but the change we want can still happen. So I ask my fellow young people to move forward. Don’t just tweet at your congressmen and congresswomen. Send them an e-mail. Send them a letter. Don’t just retweet your favorite politician. Donate to them. If you can’t donate, volunteer. Don’t just talk about the issues that matter to you. Go join and support the interest groups that fight for those positions. Don’t just talk about what policies will help your community. Go out and actually help your community. Don’t just wish that more people turned out to vote. Go and help with get out the vote campaigns. Don’t just protest, organize. Don’t just complain, vote. And to all my fellow artists who feel hurt by what has happened, don’t just tell me. Show me. Make art, because the art you make can move people more than all the tweets, status updates, and Instagram posts ever will. All of these things I have said apply to every one of us, including myself. I need to do more to make the changes I want happen. And I know it’s not easy, but if we all decide to get up and do something about these results, we can be the agents of change we always talk about being. Then maybe, just maybe, this grim situation that we are left in can be turned into something good. And what we’ve spent the last week talking about as a negative can turn out to be a positive.