The cliché is that college is the best four years of your life. For me, the cliché was true. When I graduated last May I knew I had closed an incredible chapter in my life. I experienced new things, I grew as a person, I changed and most obviously “” I learned. The specifics of what I learned would take pages to recount but in the past few months since graduation I’ve come to realize that it’s what I failed to learn that matters most. In all of my time at Trinity I never learned that I wasn’t alone. Not in an immediate, literal sense, but in the deeper, quieter sense.
This isolation was bred in a political climate that treats individual participation as either insane, impossible or both. It was reinforced through countless class discussions that circled endlessly around the same conclusions about the state of the world: if you wanted to do something about any of the powerful corporations that have gained such a stranglehold on our government, real change is impossible.
It was rarely stated but every one of these conversations subtly reinforced the same message: you are alone. No one feels the way you feel. If you’re angry about the state of the world it’s because you’re crazy. Other people are content and you’re just the “political friend,” the crazy person that rants on Facebook and dreams of a better world. Your classmates might pay lip service to what you believe in but none of them are really doing anything “” and neither are you.
This was how I felt in my four years at Trinity. It wasn’t painful because I knew no alternative. There was no organized resistance against the destruction of our society. There was no fight for me to take up. I was alone.
I am writing this article now to reach every single one of you that knows what I am describing because you live it every day. I am writing to you all to tell you that you are not alone. You are not crazy. You are one of countless millions of people that understand exactly what is happening to the world and what must be done about it. It was people like you that made civil rights or a 40-hour work week or gay marriage a reality. If you are one of those people you will almost certainly be asking the next question: How? To this question there is no single answer. There are dozens of groups in San Antonio that are active in every issue from racial injustice to climate change and everything in between. I do not know about every group in San Antonio, but I do know about most of them, and I have names and contact information to share.
As for me, I have chosen the fight that promises the highest return on investment. Rather than working on any single issue I am devoting most of my time and energy to removing the corrupt, ignorant and hateful people that got us into this mess from office and replacing them with decent people that will answer to us: their constituents.
In particular I am working to unseat Lamar Smith “” your representative here at Trinity “” from office. To fully grasp who Lamar Smith is and what he stands for, allow me to roll out the Greatest Hits of his time in office. Lamar Smith has been in office since 1986, three years before the fall of the Berlin Wall. In that time he has voted against the 9/11 First Responders Bill twice, has voted for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, has repeatedly acted to block climate change efforts and has become the only sitting member of Congress to not only endorse Donald Trump, but even donate some $4,000 to his campaign.
Meanwhile, his opponent, Tom Wakely, has spent his life trying to help other people. Long before anybody cared who he was, he worked with Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers in the 70s, was a labor organizer for hospital workers, was an ordained Unitarian minister and currently runs a hospice for veterans out of his home. Undoubtedly, many of you reading this will now be saying that it doesn’t matter because Wakely can’t win anyway. If that’s the case you should tell that to Smith who, for the first time in more than a decade, is actively campaigning against his opponent. Rather than being comfortably reelected without any real effort as usual, Smith has hired a professional fundraising firm to ensure that he wins. He is hosting fundraisers, sending out mailers and hiring phonebankers. If you think Smith has got this race in the bag you should tell him, because evidently he doesn’t think so. The Wakely campaign is the fight that I’ve chosen for myself but I do not expect everyone to do the same. Everyone is different and will have different causes they gravitate to. What matters isn’t that we all do the same work, but that we are all working in general.
Since graduation I have learned that I am not alone. Neither are you. You don’t have to be quiet. You don’t have to be passive. You don’t have sit idly by while the world burns. If you feel the same way I feel, please message me on Facebook or go to wakely2016.com to get involved. I will personally do whatever I can to connect people who care about the issues with the groups working on them. To whoever is reading this, wherever you are, I ask you to get involved and fight back against injustice in the world. I have a deep-seated belief that most human beings are good, kind people that would work to change the world if only they were given the opportunity. Please don’t disappoint me.