Just the other day I was canvassing in my hometown of Wilton, Conn. in advance of the upcoming municipal elections. I was going door to door and speaking with so many people from so many different walks of life, and not just those with whom I agree politically. I can’t help but think that it’s these types of doorstep conversations, constructive and meaningful discussions about core issues, that have gone missing during such a divided time. I recently attended Ambassador Samantha Power’s forum and was struck by her claim that the biggest threat to our world is polarization. Although I can’t deny the historically divisive time we’re in, I remain more optimistic than ever about our prospects to stem the tides. I realize it’s only a small sample, but when I knock on doors, the vast majority of people are excited and willing to engage with me. Even when we disagree, we find some common ground. Even in the most heated of conversations, I walk away with a renewed perspective on the world we live in. So often I speak with people who tell me it’s not worth discussing politics, no less being actively involved in it. Even more frequently, I receive puzzled looks when I walk into crowded rooms and discuss my deep involvement politically as a 19 year old. I know that I alone can’t change the political landscape we’re in, but I also can’t rely on others to stand up. If we choose to sit back, resigned to the status quo, not just as young people or as older adults but as the American public, we will face severe consequences for our inaction. If nobody steps off the sidelines, who do we think will lead the way?

This is why the time to step up is now, the time to engage your community in conversation is now and the time to make your voice heard is now, more than ever. It may seem difficult, it may seem like a risk not worth taking and while I can’t promise that every word you say will be heard like it deserves, I can promise that our community has never needed your perspectives more. In times like these, the public needs young leaders to step out of the shadows. Relying on the actions of others isn’t an option. In the words of President Obama, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” So I ask you, who’s next?


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