-

The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.

-

archive

Faithful Citizenship

Sofia Ballon | Friday, March 19, 2004

Although it is a Friday and like me you are probably wishing it were still spring break or already summer break, I just want to share a few thoughts that have been on my mind for the past week.I attended the CSC Seminar on Faithful Citizenship and the Upcoming Election in Washington D.C. for Spring break. Although I did not return to campus with a tan, I certainly had a great experience and learned lots from the places I visited in your nation’s capital. I’m not from the U.S., I’m from the wonderful country of Peru – where there are llamas, but we don’t ride them by the way. On Wednesday of last week, we observed a Senate session. The issue being debated was an amendment for yet another increase of the military budget. While the amendment was being presented and refuted, there were barely any senators in the room. When it was finally time to vote they started entering the room. I was amazed seeing how easy it was for the great majority of senators to give a thumbs-up to the secretary recording the votes. Some of which were seemingly just becoming aware of the issue being voted on by talking to members of their party.I acknowledge it is only my foreign-national-bird’s-eye-view of the situation, but after visiting several organizations that explained how many Americans live in poverty and how much a small fraction of the military budget could help not only these poor but those all over the world, I certainly did not feel at ease witnessing how the politicians were amending the billions as if these were peanuts.Yet, I did become aware of many positive things during the Seminar. I learned about the opportunities organizations and individuals have to participate in the U.S. government. Of how one can lobby or campaign for what one believes in. Of how several people in many nations, especially college-aged students have attained important socio-political changes by peaceful means. I guess I just want to remind you of the possibilities you all have to affect a change. Be it by voting, contacting your representatives, participating at a rally or a protest, joining an organization that fights for what you believe in or becoming more aware of the issues at stake at home and around the world. The possibilities are many; don’t let the decisions be made by others.