By Anushka Joshi

This is the era of the Hopeful Rebel. The world isn’t perfect, but it can improve––and believe it or not, it has. When we step back and take a longer and wider view of the world we can see proof in the power of humanity. The world we want to live in isn’t going to magically appear––we are going to have to work for it. So let’s get tired. Feel the pain––but let’s feel it together. And recognize that in the midst of the madness, we will always have each other. 

Civic engagement, activism, and organizing shouldn’t come out of a place of hatred and division––it should come from a place of community and belonging. Remind yourself what it means to be a citizen of the United States of America. This land is your land, and this land is my land. This is our land. We belong here––all of us. It’s a place where we can coexist, learn from each other across boundaries, and share that knowledge across each path we take. But these possibilities have been shadowed by our current state of division. 

There’s a lot of disappointment right now, but that is the basis of the Hopeful Rebel. At this intersection, we can make this country into anything we want it to be. Activists are often brushed off as young people who haven’t learned what real life is yet. We accept the reality of the world we are presented with, but there is no more truth out there than the world we create. Furthermore, activism is about survival for most people. And if it’s not, it is a privilege––and a privilege one must use. Compassion and empathy are in our DNA and should drive our biggest actions and smallest interactions. 

And it starts with a vote. As Gloria Steinem said, “voting isn’t the most we can do, but it is the least.” The current system doesn’t work for us right now, but we have the power to make it work. And while it is tempting to walk away and abandon the system, that is not a way to enact effective change. Instead, we must work from inside the belly of the beast. The establishment doesn’t want us to vote, so that’s why we will. Voting is a form of protesting––an act of rebellion. For many Generation Z’ers, this is #OurFirstVote. Let’s not lose hope.