Anna’s Answers: It’s About To Get Political

Anna Schmidt continues her blog this week with her second entry.

More stories from Anna Schmidt

Watch out… it’s about to get political. 
Just kidding. Or at least a little bit kidding. The truth is, I don’t really know very much about politics. I don’t know all the in’s and out’s of each argument, and I don’t know how to argue with people who disagree with me, and I don’t even really know who disagrees with me because I can’t really make up my mind on ANYTHING.  
Ok, I need to slow down, I know. I guess I need to fill you in. Last week my government class took a political party quiz and WOW, who knew there was so much going on in our country that we are supposed to form an opinion about. I would tell you which party I fell under, but that’s not really the point, and I’m guessing that either way I would lose a handful of readers, and I don’t want that. So I’m instead going to tell you what all of the buzz made me feel.
Ok, I know, you still need more backstory. So my school year just started and I am enrolled in government. I have a loud teacher who explains everything step by step. Not that that’s a bad thing, I actually really like my teacher. Anyway, the past week has consisted of Mr. Ebright standing at the front of the room explaining both political parties’ views on issues like welfare, education, economics, affirmative action, abortion, and more. Each of the students in the room were given a notebook with questions like “Reduce welfare?” and the choices “yes” or “no.” The students would listen to Mr. Ebright explain each of the topics, and then pick yes or no. By the end of the week, all 25 topics had been explained and students were counting their yes’s and no’s. 
After my classmates and I counted up our results and revealed our political party to the room, my teacher explained that whichever side we fell on, it is safe here. We will always be allowed to give our opinions and state our beliefs without being ridiculed.  
This should be a relief right? For me, however, I felt anything but relief. I couldn’t help but replay in my head the phrases he was using. Phrases like YOUR BELIEFS and YOUR OPINIONS. But, Mr. Ebright, what if I don’t know my opinion yet? Sure, I circled my yes’s and no’s, and I chose a party, but that was after one week of learning about topics that seemed so large that we could spend our entire year, or even our entire lives debating about. And it was also because I simply wanted a category to fit into. So I made my decision and I didn’t “sit on the fence,” but that didn’t mean I wasn’t still wrestling with most of the topics brought up. 
My teacher likes to say that he would rather you make up your mind and be a Democrat or be a Republican than sit on the fence. I’ve been thinking about it, though. What’s really so bad about sitting on the fence? Is it the fact that now we don’t have a label for ourselves? Because I definitely don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think it is admirable when people don’t define themselves by their political beliefs. When they are able to realize that their identity rests in more than a set of rules or opinions. That it rests in their ability to look at life BOTH realistically and compassionately, and that they can think WHATEVER they want because there really aren’t any rules, there is just how you truly feel about a topic, and there is the direction that you want our country to move in.  
So maybe that’s what I am, a fence sitter. Or maybe I’m a Democrat, or maybe I’m a Republican. But maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe the names we give ourselves aren’t the point. Maybe what matters is that we are being bold enough to step out of the realm of high school topics and gossip, and talk about something bigger than us, and care about something that can further develop mankind. I guess I’m just tired of acting like being a Democrat or a Republican is what is important. I don’t actually think that is important at all. I think that forming opinions and analyzing and growing and making our world better, and more full of love is what’s important. So maybe that is what I’ll call myself, “apersonwhowantstomaketheworldbetterandmorefulloflove.” Yeah, maybe that will be my party. Or maybe I don’t need a party, or a label, because that was never the point. 

Your friend,

Anna Schmidt