By Nadia Beidas
The presidential election will be upon us in November. The majority of traditional-age students are voting for the first time, but some have not or will not vote due to a belief that one vote does not make a difference.
When you do not vote, you give away your right to have a say in any of the decisions that govern your life. If you think this does not affect you, think again.
You are all in the pursuit of higher education, and you will graduate in the future. If the economy does not improve, you might find it difficult or impossible to find a job. To top that off, you will likely have student loans you cannot repay.
You have the power to choose a candidate who could forgive some or all of your student loans. You have the power to choose a candidate who will create jobs, so you can work in the future.
In addition, many of you are also covered under your parents’ insurance, provided your parents have employment. But when you are 26, you will no longer be covered. If you become sick or are in an accident, you might find yourself with bills you cannot recover from.
But there are more frightening possibilities. We study history to avoid the mistakes of the past, but it is terrifying to think some of these dire situations could reappear.
In Nazi Germany, over six million Jews, Roma, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others were exterminated in concentration camps. And this statistic is thought to be higher.
In the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, an estimated 20 million Soviets were killed.
During World War II, following Japanese forces bombing Pearl Harbor, about 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent were forced in internment camps here in the United States.
There are those of you who believe this all happened a long time ago, and that this cannot possibly happen now. I wish you were right.
There are thousands of immigrants detained in detention centers. Children are separated from their parents, and they are in unthinkable conditions.
In addition, the American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU] reported an allegation of forced sterilization of women in Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE]. It is despicable to decide who can reproduce and who cannot, and it is against nature, religion and humanity as a whole.
Over the past few months, we have seen reports of Americans of Asian descent being attacked since the outbreak of COVID-19. We have seen unarmed black Americans like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor killed. The video of Jacob Blake shot in the back several times in front of his children went viral, and he is now paralyzed and was even handcuffed in the hospital on top of his paralysis.
Back in 2016, there was talk of a Muslim registry. A registry is the first step to concentration camps and atrocities. Back in World War II, Jewish people were forced to wear the Star of David to be identified as Jewish publicly.
Additionally, there are those who use the terms Arab and Muslim interchangeably, even though there are Arab Christians and Muslims who are not Arab by descent. What is to prevent everyone who is Arab or Muslim from being lumped into the database? What is to prevent all Americans of color from this type of database?
Or worse, what will prevent all people of color from being sent to internment camps? It happened during World War II. And we have detainment camps of atrocities now.
You might think you are powerless to stop anything, but you are not. One vote can help change the course of history. In a close election, every vote counts.
If you wish to vote by mail, then fill out the forms and vote early. If you vote on election day, find your polling place early. Take food, take your studies, and wait as long as you have to in order to vote.
If you fail to vote, it is a slap to everyone who fought for that freedom. It is your right and civic duty to vote.
If anyone prevents or tries to discourage you from voting, then they do not have the best interest of the country or you at heart, and it is illegal. If you give in, then you let injustice triumph over justice. And what sort of future do you think you will have?
By voting, you are allowing your voice to be heard, and you are fighting to have a future. If I encourage even one of you who was not planning to vote into voting, then this article accomplishes something on the right side of history.
As members of the Lewis community, our core values are knowledge, fidelity, justice, wisdom and association, which all play a role in voting in the election.
We must seek knowledge and be always learning. In this election and our voting process, we must learn everything at stake while studying history, so we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. In addition, knowledge gives you power, and you can use this power for the greater good of humanity in social and economic justice.
In fidelity, we seek the truth, a commitment to our faiths, as well as an openness to other faiths.
Through wisdom, we utilize our critical perspective in order to take a deeper look into society, culture and the human experience. We use our knowledge in order to solve problems.
Justice affirms the equality and sacredness of every life, as well as personal and social responsibility. We are at a point in history where justice is needed more than ever.
And with association, we learn, grow and succeed via collaboration and respect. We have to work together to achieve good purposes.
In ECaMS [department of engineering, computing, and mathematical sciences], our computer science courses include cybersecurity, software and artificial intelligence. These skills will help prevent election hacking and the spread of misinformation. In the future, some of you may pursue careers along those lines. You will be on the side of justice and protecting our country.
You do not have to wait until the start of your career to do your part. You can begin safeguarding our country now by voting.
In the future, you might be asked where you stood at this moment in history. Stand on the side of right and vote.