September 13, 2012
As an immigrant from a country whose electorate became dysfunctional, I have seen firsthand the detrimental effects of an uneducated populace. Being apathetic and failing to properly educate everyone is the biggest evil we can commit.
When the New York Times asked Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson what he would do if he became president, he said: “One objective reality is that our government doesn’t work, not because we have dysfunctional politicians, but because we have dysfunctional voters. As a scientist and educator, my goal, then, is not to become President and lead a dysfunctional electorate, but to enlighten the electorate so they might choose the right leaders in the first place.”
The first step in our education is realizing that swapping one leader for another will not fix all our problems. Leaders do not cause or solve our problems, we do, the people who give them power.
As students of Hamilton College, we represent the future of this country. We are on the path to becoming tomorrow’s leaders in whatever fields we wish to pursue. When we are empowered with a skeptical mindset that puts an emphasis on objective realities, we can become responsible citizens.
If we grow up without properly educating ourselves, we are failing not only ourselves, but our country. As America’s future, it is our duty to educate society instead of letting it stagnate. Who are we to do nothing? If we set idly by, ignorant of our own ignorance, apathetic to what others believe, unconcerned with our political system, who will be tomorrow’s great educators and leaders?
What defines the United States is our strong tradition of being the pioneers of the world. We are always stretching the limits of human ingenuity. Whether it is technological advances or space exploration, we are defined by our innate longing to be the pioneers of the world. Our political system is a joke to anyone who is remotely educated about our situation with regards to the rest of the world.
Being informed will put more pressure on candidates to have unique and intuitive ideas that actually benefit society as a whole, as opposed to the current status quo, where policy is influenced by corporations and special interest groups. They warp the truth and propagate candidates they want through media companies they own. We must spread the truth and propagate candidates who are not puppets to these private interests.
Look at our own school. We are supposed to be some of the best and brightest students this country has to offer. Yet, we fall into the same sense of political monotony. Instead of thinking outside the box, we only have the College Democrats and College Republicans. How are we supposed to be “a national leader in teaching students to…think for themselves” when we think in the same way as the general populace? Is this all Hamilton has to offer to the political world? Are there only two modes of political thought at this school? We talk about diversity, yet we forget the most important aspect of diversity: diversity in the way individuals think.
Not enough students at this school care about politics. They are apathetic and completely unaware of the poverty of such a mindset. They forget that apathy is the root of all evil. Next time you feel apathetic, think of this quote from Martin Niemoller and apply to it all aspects of your life: “When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent; I was not a communist. When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent; I was not a social democrat. When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out; I was not a trade unionist. When they came for the Jews, I remained silent; I wasn’t a Jew. When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.”
It is paramount that we educate ourselves, educate each other, and take an active role in society. Sitting on the side lines until it is too late helps no one. We are Hamiltonians. Like Neil Degrasse Tyson, we need to educate this world and pave a path for a better tomorrow.