Submitted for the consideration of Hutchinson Collegian readers:

There comes a time in every newspaper editorial board’s life when it must engage in dialogue with its readers to determine what actions are worthy of support for our society’s bettering. 

Typically, endorsements come in the form of candidates and are published early enough into their elections to affect their outcome. However, this late into the cycle, we deemed it best to instead endorse collective actions, government policies, and personal, moral guidance that will drive us forward.

As young adults tossed into an increasingly chaotic world, we face and will continue to face undoubted hardship and setbacks to progress. However, we can not – we must not – allow pessimism to control us, ensuring the worst to happen. 

In just the past few months, we have seen protests against police brutality, daily lives upended by a pandemic, unemployment, global markets and wealth gains ironically skyrocketing together and a lackluster response to it all from elected officials.

Now is not the time for complacency.

This year may yet be the most important year of our lives if we make it so.

The Collegian endorses:

Wearing a mask

Due to the federal government failing to take the coronavirus and its effects upon our lives seriously, the responsibility to halt its spread falls upon us. 

The privilege to attend in-person classes, compete in sports, and maintain a sense of “normalcy” will only be extended to us as long as we follow public health officials’ guidance.

Wear a mask while on campus, and anywhere you may come into contact with others. Wash your hands regularly for twenty seconds. Maintain social distancing and avoid mass gatherings. If you are not feeling well, stay home, or follow Residence Life’s rules, and consult with instructors to make up lectures and coursework.

Embracing radical empathy and ending systemic bigotry

Part of what makes the college experience great is the exposure to students of cultures, socio-economic status and personal identity different from our own. Being in class and interacting with people whom we may initially have animus towards based upon our biases encourages us to ditch the prejudices in favor of embracing our diversity.

At the same time, we must educate ourselves and each other about the systems which suppress our ability to self-actualize, especially those in disadvantaged and minority groups.

We must work towards social equity through supporting movements and policies to change our policing system, end the carceral state, provide healthcare and education to all, shelter the homeless, improve working conditions for low-wage and immigrant laborers, slow the threat of climate change, reign in the cost of living, and better our society generally.

As the late political commentator Michael Brooks once said: “Be ruthless with systems. Be kind to people.”

Participating in community and political processes

Donate to and volunteer at food banks and homeless shelters, listen to community leaders and activists, follow local news, and learn about your community’s history.

Take a few minutes to research who your elected representatives are and if their policies align with your community’s beliefs and interests. Local officials directly impact your life, from road repairs to your education, cost of housing, and job prospects.

You pay their salary, and they are public servants, so they may as well be encouraged to do the best by their constituents.

Moving forward

It is said that President Franklin Roosevelt once met with a group of activists who were pushing for radical economic policies before the writing of New Deal legislation. After listening to them, he said, “You’ve convinced me. Now go out and make me do it.”

We have this same power if we make ourselves heard and do our level best to improve our world, both at the hyper-local level of conversation with others and at the governmental level through lobbying, rebuke and protest.

Public intellectual Noam Chomsky theorized that humanity faces two options for its future.

“We can be pessimistic, give up and help ensure that the worst will happen,” he said. “Or we can be optimistic, grasp the opportunities that surely exist, and maybe help make the world a better place. Not much of a choice.” 

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