We all grew up hearing the same age-old adage as our parents and probably our parent’s parents. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” It’s a simple idea really; you can say whatever you want but those words won’t cause any harm. That idea is far from reality though. Words do hurt. And in this Presidential election in particular they have caused harm.
For the first time in our lifetimes, an election has brought about questions to the basic rights afforded to us as citizens of the United States. In this election we have heard statements and proposals that are more than just bigoted, they are antithetical to the entire nature of our country. We have seen attacks on minorities of all kinds, ranging from those attacked on the basis of their religion, to those attacked based on their heritage. Yet we have gone on, “business as usual”, refusing to acknowledge the harm that these words cause. We can’t go on any longer, and it is not acceptable to act as if “business as usual” is even a choice.
As a religious minority, but more importantly as an American, it is my duty to stand up and say something. When there are attacks on the freedom of United States citizens to openly practice their religion, we must stand up. When there is ongoing rhetoric aimed at attacking and denigrating individuals based on race, we must stand up. When we have an attack on the very freedoms that define our nation, we must stand up.
As the election moves closer every day, I want to take this time to urge you to take advantage of your civic duty and vote. As Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said “Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.” At this moment in time, we are the center of the universe and the whole world watching.
This is our chance to send a message, not only for this year, but for the history of the United States of America. Voting this year is about more than just selecting a candidate. It is about protecting the very freedoms that founded our nation, and protect its citizens day in and day out. Words might be able to hurt us, but actions will always speak louder than words. Will you stand up?
Senior political science and public relations double major