Looking back and steaming forward

By The Easterner, Editorial Board

The chaos of 2017 is in our rearview mirror, and 2018 is upon us. Feel free to take a monumental sigh of relief, because despite thinking at times that you wouldn’t, you managed to survive 2017 after all.

In a year that seemingly had a never-ending news cycle, 2017 was defined by: the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency; Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 presidential campaign; two of the deadliest mass shootings in American history; a hurricane and wildfire season that decimated the southern and western regions of the United States; the first total solar eclipse to cross the United States in 99 years; sexual misconduct allegations that sent shockwaves throughout Hollywood and Washington, D.C.; heightened tensions with a nuclear North Korea that now allegedly has the ability to hit any area in the United States; NFL national anthem protests over police brutality against African-Americans; and the deaths of well-known figures such as comedian Don Rickles, Fox News founder Roger Ailes, singer Chris Cornell, Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner, gay rights pioneer Edith Windsor, musician Tom Petty and cult leader Charles Manson. And yes, that 151-word sentence is, aptly, chaotic.

But for those seeking a reprieve in this new year, don’t get your hopes up for a calmer 2018. The 2018 midterm congressional elections—as well as governor and state legislature elections nationwide—are sure to play a starring role over the next 10 months as Democrats look to take control of the House of Representatives and Senate from the Republicans. But state elections will play a significant part of 2018’s political story, as this year’s elections will have massive ramifications for the redrawing of congressional maps and the fight against gerrymandering as the 2020s sit right at our doorstep.

And while most college students and young adults feel politically disenfranchised, often times for good reasons, getting involved politically is one way to enact change that affects themselves. C.J. Cregg, the fictional press secretary for President Bartlett on “The West Wing,” said it best when she asked a crowd of college students at a Rock The Vote event if they thought that government wasn’t about them.

“How many of you have student loans to pay?” Cregg asked. “How many have credit card debt? How many want clean air and clean water and civil liberties? How many want jobs? How many want kids? How many want their kids to go to good schools and walk on safe streets? Decisions are made by those who show up.”

Indeed, decisions are made by those who show up. Decisions can also be influenced by those who speak out, as the #MeToo movement can certainly attest to. In the past several months, dozens of powerful celebrities, politicians, executives and media personalities have been ousted from their jobs and faced legal consequences after being accused of sexual misconduct by coworkers, employees and others.

Movements like these, which help weed out the bad apples in our communities and in society as a whole, helps spark change that can be remembered for decades and centuries. But just as important is being involved with projects and organizations in our community, giving back in a variety of different ways. At EWU and in Cheney, there are multiple opportunities to help out throughout the year, such as participating in the MLK Day of Service on Jan. 15, volunteering to distribute food for Feed Cheney every second Monday, participating in the Cheney Clean Sweep in April, and donating items to the Cheney Food Bank and Cheney Clothing Exchange.

It’s one of the most clichéd sayings, but it’s true: be the change you want to see in the world. Decisions are made by those who show up. So do it, and little by little you can help make this world better for everyone in it. Let’s be able to look back at 2018 three decades from now with a sense of pride and good memories.