The U.S. government entered into a partial shutdown on Tuesday, Oct. 1 when Congress failed to pass a new budget in time for the next fiscal year. By consequence, the government has been forced to furlough thousands of employees and rely on the hands of skeleton crews – those employees deemed absolutely necessary.
I could certainly write about my opinions on the current shutdown. I could write about the inability of congressional members to compromise, the division among Republicans in the House, the debatable actions of President Barack Obama or the pitfalls of the new health care law. In fact, I would if these issues were the real problems we face as Americans. However, they aren’t. The biggest problem we face today as Americans is us.
We the people of the United States of America bear the fault for our country’s woes. That’s you and me, folks. We the people of the United States of America proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that governments derive their power from the “consent of the governed.”
“We the people” built our nation that way.
Yet, it seems that many of us at Azusa Pacific simply don’t get the point.
In a random survey I conducted of one hundred students on campus, 96 percent professed knowledge of the current state of affairs and 60 percent are upset by that state.
However, only two students out of the one hundred surveyed said they had contacted their congressional representative.
Seventy-two percent of students could not name their representative.
This problem, therefore, is not something that I can rationally blame on House Republicans or on President Obama. We the people put these politicians in Washington and we the people have the power to influence their actions while they are there. We have been given this freedom but have chosen to live in ignorance instead. We have the freedom to let our voices be heard, but we do not have the luxury of complaining when we have remained silent all along the way.
If this is how we represent APU in civic life, we are failing. If this is how we live as citizens of this country, we are failing. If this is how our Christianity works itself out in society, we are failing – and miserably so.
We are the salt of the earth. We are the young, the dreamers of our world. We haven’t been jaded by age or embittered by experience. We have the spunk, the panache, the nerve to believe that we can make a difference in our world. We at APU have received a world-class education. If we neglect our civic duties, who is going to fill the gap?
So what can we do?
“The first thing is that, as Christians, we need to pray for our leaders,” said Dr. Abbylin Sellers, assistant professor of political science. “Prayer is not partisan. If you didn’t vote for the president, you still should pray for him. You should pray for the leaders. They need wisdom.”
Some students, however, may hope to be more directly involved. There are physical, tangible ways to do that. Many men and women of Congress have contact resources for their constituents. You can mail a letter, write an email or even pick up the phone.
“Congressional members pay attention to what you write,” Sellers said. “That’s representative democracy in action.”
Such action is of the utmost importance at this time in our nation’s history. With uncertainty over the government shutdown still fresh in our minds, a potentially more disastrous obstacle lies ahead. The need to raise the federal borrowing limit, or “debt ceiling,” is fast approaching, Oct. 17. The government has been using extraordinary measures to maintain its borrowing capacity since May. Soon, the Treasury will be unable to borrow more money.
Now, more than ever, is the time to get involved. Don’t get sucked into the apathy of our generation. Don’t know the name of your representative? Go here to find out and to visit the member’s website. Keep up on current news by intentionally visiting several news sites every day, or at least visit Google News for an aggregation of top stories. If we want the best for our country, we as Americans need to stay informed and help our government officials do their job by getting involved. And of course, don’t forget to pray for our leaders to have wisdom as they struggle to decide how to lead our great nation forward in unity.