I blushed when she asked the question.
It was my first semester of graduate school and I was sitting in a class devoted to theories of human behavior. It was later in the semester and we had covered a number of different theories. Each theory used a different approach and focused on a different aspect of people’s lives, from the ways infants develop attachments to adults’ desires for self-determination to the ways that people perceive reality in general. It was my favorite class of the two years I spent working toward my degree, rivaled only by the more informal discussions of philosophies and their impacts on social work practice during my independent studies.
On that day, a classmate had raised his hand. He was confused about the goal of our studies. He was struggling to understand how we, as budding social workers, were supposed to use all of these different and, sometimes, contradictory theories during our work with clients. If we were conducting individual therapy with an adult, should we focus on his attachments to his parents or on his current financial situation? If the client was a woman who had left an abusive relationship, should we focus on the difference between being a survivor versus a victim or should we focus on helping her get stable housing? How would perceptions of reality be relevant with a six-year-old boy?
I raised my hand, somewhat tentatively, to offer a response.
“I don’t think we’re supposed to view these theories as a ranking, as though one is better than the other,” I began. “One theory is never going to apply perfectly to every situation. I think we’re supposed to take the pieces of each theory that work for our clients and apply them accordingly. Some theories are going to make more sense than others, depending on who the client is, so our job is to figure out which one will inform our practice the most effectively.”
Our professor, a human perpetual motion machine with a caring smile and an even more caring heart, clapped her hands once and grinned.
“Aaron,” she asked, “would you please run for President?”
My face broke into an embarrassed smile. The class laughed at the question and applauded loudly, which didn’t help my suddenly flushed cheeks.
“I would vote for you in a second,” my professor said as she added a wink for good measure.
Just to be clear – spoiler alert, everyone – I’m not running for political office. I already have enough on my plate between full-time employment, part-time jobs and my family.
But, in case you haven’t heard, there is an election coming up for our country. A third of the Senate and every single representative in Congress is up for re-election, not to mention the state and local elections that give citizens the chance to make their voices heard. Disappointed with your town’s budget? Vote for city council. Unhappy with the conditions of your local schools? Vote for the school board. Do you agree or disagree with the decisions of the federal government? Either way – get to the polls and vote.
We young people – I still get to classify myself as young, right? – get a bad rap for not caring about politics. We’re described as apathetic or detached or too focused on social media to care about actually doing anything. In fact, apparently there are some young people today who said they won’t vote because they can’t bring themselves to buy stamps. But there are 70 million eligible young voters for this upcoming election and, by the next election in 2020, young people will make up 40% of the electorate. That’s a lot of votes to help shape the future of our country.
Rock the Vote is an organization that knows how to get young people involved in the political process. They’ve been doing it since 1990 (or, since I was seven, when I really did classify as a young person). They’ve upped their game since then, though, as technology and young people’s awareness of the different issues affecting our country. Whether you’re young or old, here are some ways you can prepare for election day:
- Get your sample ballot and look up your polling site here.
- If you have any questions or issues at the polls, here is the Election Protection Hotline number: 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683)
- Join @RocktheVote and @WhenWeAllVote to text voters to make sure they turn out to vote. Take a few minutes to help.
- Want to host a voting party? You can host an event at your polling site or arrange a caravan to help turn out voters in your community: rockthevote.org/votefest-2018
Look, I don’t care what your party affiliation is or whether you lean right or left. It’s none of my business or anyone else’s. But, no matter where you align yourself or which politicians you follow, you deserve to have your say in the direction of our country. If nothing else, even if you’re disappointed in the results, at least you’ll be justified in complaining about it.
Tuesday, November 6th. Go vote.