So, you’ve bought your metal straw and you believe in the sustainability movement, but where do we go from here? I’m thinking politics.
There is no reason that you cannot be a political leader influencing the direction of our country. I have a few keys to help you do this by expanding your influence. The first key? Let’s get educated. Listen to podcasts and read the news (I mean visit the CNN, NY Times, etc. website and read the real story). You can easily incorporate these into your routine by listening to a 30-minute daily news podcast on your walk to class. You can also keep a news app on your phone that sends you quick notifications of major events happening right now. Easy peasy. Use these to learn the history behind the sustainability issues that move you. Don’t stop there. Speak to your professors, speak to leaders in your clubs, speak to the person in line in front of you. Who are your local leaders? Who is making the decisions around here? We have access to so much information. Let’s use it!
This leads me to my second key: have difficult conversations. Nothing great ever happened from a group of people sitting around agreeing. However, maneuvering around difficult conversations is an art form. We need to balance patience with respect and curiosity. Believe it or not, there is always a chance that we are wrong and that should excite you. Remember that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Our goal is to understand the other side, not to change it. If you believe in one argument, seek out someone who feels the total opposite. Knowledge truly is power and we’re striving to educate one another. Have difficult conversations!
The third and final key is to dive right into the political scene. I’ve often heard that we are nervous about getting involved because we “don’t know enough.” Look at our current country leaders. Do they seem like they know it all? Nooo! Use keys one and two to become familiar with our country and its history and then pick your poison. Maybe we start with voting. We cannot complain if we did not work to influence the outcome. Another option is attending a city council meetings. Intern for an elected official or political candidate. Speak to the people who make decisions and tell them how you feel. Heck, run for office yourself!
Whatever you do, don’t lose your curiosity. A great political leader has strong beliefs but has enough humility to pause and seek to understand another perspective. Starting today, you can be a great political leader.
International Service Leader