FAU Speaks Out! Essay Contest Winner

by Sapna Ashok Talati

Since I've been at FAU, I've made thousands of copies of fliers for events that I hoped would inspire my peers to see this country and its politics differently.  But by the end of the day, I always find my flyers left on the floor, blown into the corners of the pavement along with dirt and bottle caps. Thomas Paine first published Common Sense anonymously because he feared what the British would do to him. In selling thousands of copies, he helped ignite a revolution which led to the free land we are all living on now. Today, American authors and journalists do not have to fear censorship. They speak freely, and point out that labeling someone an "enemy combatant," taking away habeus corpus, and legalizing the use of torture are all acts the Supreme Court, and international law, have ruled against; yet, the executive branch has determined them to be legal. Today, front page headlines and best-selling books claim that the president is violating the principles that keep us free, that the United States is veering off the path the Founding Fathers — and Thomas Paine — created for us. A basic understanding of our Constitution and of US history — the kind I've learned here at FAU —  tells us the United States was created by activists who designed a government based on equal opportunity and a balance of powers. So why does it seem like no one on my campus has noticed one side of the scale hit the floor? The United States is facing imbalanced powers that have created foreign threats, a fluctuating economy, social issues, and internal government corruption; but the greatest threat to our nation is the apathy growing within my generation. Who will fix these issues of our great nation if nobody cares? Thomas Jefferson created the first public school system with the intentions of molding people into citizens capable of keeping the government's power in check. The system of checks and balances is one of the first topics we are taught about in American Government. We all know it, but fail to recognize it in action.

Today, we have the education and opportunity that it takes to make ourselves and our nation successful. And never in the history of the world have we been so globally connected. Two nations separated by a thousand mile ocean can affect the daily lives of each others citizens.  Yet today, even though knowledge is only a click away, my generation has failed to educate themselves properly about their rights, their duties, and their constitution.

Our collected thoughts and actions will be the United States in a few years. And our continuous inaction will threaten its stability, and even its survival.   I often wonder, if I passed out copies of "Common Sense" instead of flyers, would the historical document end up with the same fate, torn on the floor? I am ashamed to admit that it would.

So what makes my generation different then the previous generations who worked so hard to preserve freedom and democracy? Perhaps we are just spoiled, and take for granted the values that constitute this nation.  Or perhaps there's more to it:  politicians only alienate my generation further with their power-hunger and corruption. And then, our apathy allows the corruption to continue. Someone needs to break the cycle. 

When I see the flyers on the floor, to me they represent a generations apathy, our opportunities discarded. It may be a cliché, but we are the next generation of politicians-- and even the next president.  The only way to re-energize a generation of disenchanted youth is to empower them. We need a leader with the ability to engage my generation, motivate us, and teach us how and why the American political system is relevant to us. The thought of seeing issues of Common Sense on the corner of the floor terrifies me. I can only hope future politicians will embody the ideals of our founding fathers and remind my generation that the status of our nation relies on us.

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