Download: We Need Politically Active Citizens
Charles Fuller once said,
“To spend one’s life being angry, and in the process doing nothing to change it, is to me ridiculous. I could be mad all day long, but if I’m not doing a damn thing, what difference does it make?”
I agree with Fuller’s statement. I don’t get people that complain about something, but do nothing about it. I also don’t get people that see injustice but look the other way.
Politics should not be left in the hands of politicians. On the contrary, politics is too important, too precious to be left to them. For democracies to be successful, nations need citizens that understand not only their rights but also their responsibilities.
This does not mean that citizens have to be politicians. On the contrary, they need to be citizens. The best citizens they can be. If someone is an architect, he or she should be the best architect possible. The same applies to teachers, business people, and every profession. For a country to succeed, we all need to be the best version of ourselves.
But this means that people have to be politically conscious.
First, citizens have to embody the values and principles we all want for our nations. For instance, for us to have freedom of expression, we have to first be tolerant and open to different ideas. Similarly, we cannot expect our nations to embrace markets if we don’t have companies that not only deliver good products but also adopt corporate cultures that are in sync with the values of tomorrow, from respecting the environment to treating their workers with fairness and respect.
This is step one to becoming a functioning nation. Step two is to have a citizenry that defends the values of freedom and democracy from every corner. We need artists that use their platforms to speak about the social challenges of today. We need teachers to teach our children about the horrors of the past. And overall, we need a citizenry that is actively reminding itself about the importance of seeking a better tomorrow. A society that constantly reminds itself that freedom is not free and that we have to cherish and protect our democratic institutions.
I think this is why we founded this media outlet in the first place. I believe that citizens have the responsibility to inform themselves about the realities of our world. People have to be aware of their country’s foreign policy. They have to understand where the taxpayers’ money is going. And overall, they have the responsibility to combat the disinformation and misinformation campaigns that are everywhere on the internet these days.
Because if we don’t have active citizens, then those with power will try to undermine our liberties. They will try to use our institutions not to the benefit of the people, but to the benefit of their businesses. This is what we see now in countries like Russia and Venezuela, my own country.
In Latin America, for instance, for too long, we have let our elites decide the future of our nations, institutionalizing authoritarianism in the process. It is time to make a change. A change for good. A change for the better. A change that will finally bring hope and prosperity to every citizen, not just a lucky few.
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