Some of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned were experienced between the ages five and 10. Just like every other kid, I learned to look both ways before crossing the street, always tie my shoes in order that I would not trip and fall, never open the door for a stranger, and always tell the truth regardless of the consequences of that action. For the most part, I followed these rules precisely, except for the times that I occasionally ran across the street with reckless abandon and stretched the truth just a little bit. Besides the aforementioned things that I learned, I believe that the most important statement ever made to me was something my dad said. I will never forget when my dad, out of the blue, advised “only speak about what you know.” In other words he was saying that if you don’t know what you’re talking about, keep your mouth closed, don’t add your two cents, and don’t get into conversations about things that you are not informed about. While this is not a profound concept, it is something that I feel passionately about.
Because I am well informed, I do feel that I can speak about sports, music, movies, and just about anything that has to do with popular culture. Although I do not consider myself an expert, these are things that I have a real interest in and of course I feel that I can add my two cents and talk facts with just about anyone.
A friend of mine asked me why I rarely write about politics or things going on in the political world and I replied using the reasoning that my dad once explained to me. I simply said “I write about what I know.” Now this does not mean that I do not understand politics or do not care about our local government, but I will be the first to admit that politics have not been a real point of interest for me. I have not done an in depth study of our political system, unless you consider History and Political Science courses and frankly, in the past, I just had no interest in the matter because I felt that local government did not involve me. Growing up, it seemed as if my opinion didn’t count and my vote amounted to very little. Consequently, when I was old enough to vote, I opted to sleep through election day. It was no big deal. It wasn’t until I was confronted by an older gentleman who explained to me how important it was for me to not only understand our local government but also participate, that I began to attempt to develop an interest in politics. Still, I am not passionate about government affairs, but I do feel that it matters whether or not I am well informed and whether or not I make my vote count.
Often times, I wonder if those in my age group feel the same way that I did about politics. If so, this would explain why many don’t bother voting or even know the candidates for that matter. I, too, cared less about what went on inside City Hall or the court house for a long time, but as I began to understand how the decisions that elected officials made affected me, I really wanted to do my part.
I do not write about political issues because that is not my area of expertise, but I am interested. One can guarantee that when I become well informed, I will speak out more about the dealings of our elected officials, or maybe not. But as my dad reasoned, I can only comment on what I know well. Opinions don’t matter if you have no clue what you’re talking about. It just makes one seem silly. Not having a clue does not stop most people from adding their two cents, but I feel that if one is going to get into a deep political conversation, he or she should at least be well informed.
For those who may have felt as I did several years ago, I tell you that the decisions made by our local government do affect you. Even if you have little interest, it is important to still know what’s going on and make your vote count. If you don’t participate, you have no grounds to talk about things you don’t know about. Opinions don’t count if you don’t bother to get involved and began to understand the importance of being in the know. If one doesn’t bother to take a slight interest and doesn’t vote, then one should not speak about what they don’t know. In other words, don’t complain.