Global Issues: How the World Needs Leadership

To the Editors:

We’ve had since Wednesday morning to mourn, and now is the time for action. We can’t just sit back and talk about how the world is screwed, because that kind of defeatist attitude only gives those in office free reign to go ahead with their regressive policies, policies like energy and climate change policies (or lack thereof) that literally threaten to destroy our world. Moreover, whenever we give in to the results of an election without planning our comeback; whenever we hear a candidate who has just lost her election giving a concession speech about the need for bipartisanship and cooperation and accept her words as political necessity; whenever we fail to demand better public servants by disengaging from The System or deciding not to run for office ourselves, we surrender our rights and privileges as citizens of the United States.
A losing candidate has no right to make a conciliatory concession speech if she truly believes anything she said during her campaign. Running for office is not the Super Bowl: you don’t just go to the locker room and cry after you lose. A candidate who lost did not lose a “race,” in the sporting sense, she lost a cause, something she believes in enough to destroy her physical, if not emotional health. A true leader stands by her beliefs when the going gets rough, and an honest politician is a citizen-soldier who doesn’t desert her army. A true leader is an activist. Where is the politician who, upon losing his election, stands up and pledges to continue to fight for the issues he told us he would champion as our next senator/governor/president, rather than take a vacation and grow a beard? Where are the real leaders? Where are the people who care about the fate of all of us? Where are Oberlin students in this political picture?
The world in which we live is outrageous. We, those of us in our early twenties, are beginning lifetimes that could feasibly see the end of democracy and human civilization as we know it. If we are ever to solve complex, long-term problems like climate change and global poverty, we need political leaders who make these issues their life goals, not just use them as soundbytes to attract a few votes here and there. These activist leaders must be dedicated enough to develop the creative and dynamic plans needed to get to the roots of seemingly insurmountable problems.
We live in a time of almost infinite possibility, but this opportunity is being squandered before our eyes. The new threats of totalitarianism, terrorism and climate change are not social security, public transportation and intelligent design: failing to resolve these new issues means that we will die before our times have come. Global issues like the three mentioned above need genuine leadership, and if that leadership is not being provided to us, we need to provide it ourselves. We need to be our own leaders. We need to get up every morning and do what we want our politicians to do: work like dogs to find long-term solutions to the things that matter to us and get those solutions implemented. We can and should start on this campus, by turning Oberlin into an example of what the future could be -- for other schools, for this country and for the world. We are members of the generation that will oversee either the destruction of the world, or its rebirth. If it is to be the latter, we need to regroup, realize there is hope for the future, and exert our own political powers on every level of governance.

–Claire Jahns
College senior


November 8
November 15

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