This is a post by Tara Chattoraj, a student at Wheaton Warrenville South High School and a co-president of Verterra, the Action Team at WWS.
Dealing with the effects of global warming over the next decade, natural gas supplies halfway around the world, colossal oil companies make trillion dollar oil sales… sometimes it all just seems like too much. I mean, I can’t be the only one who wonders what one vote can do about issues so enormous, so all-encompassing that it takes not just entire nations, but conglomerations of them, to even begin to handle.
And that’s not all. Watching the presidential debates and hearing other people’s political opinions, I often find myself wondering how people can feel so passionately about things that seem to have no tangible connection to them. I mean sure, polar bears might have to swim a little farther, and summers might be a little hotter, but there’s hardly enough of a problem to feel a personal fervor on the matter.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it’s not about the big picture problems that politicians so often present. Instead, it’s about the tiny examples. The daughters and sons, the Joe the Plumbers and the Amanda Todds, which become figureheads for movements, which make things matter. In order to care and make others care, you have to find a reason to care.
And thinking about it, I realized I did have a personal connection with the environmental conundrums that face our nation, a reason to care: the forest preserve right up the street.
The Dupage Country forest preserve, Blackwell, is trying to build a 3-building facility, including a large garage for the entire county and a deer processing facility – and it’s just up my street, on beautiful preserve property. That doesn’t sound that bad, right? I mean, building things is a fact of life. Well, building may be a fact of life, but that doesn’t justify building an expensive facility for the infinitesimally small 75 deer culled each year, when there are plenty of local facilities the forest preserve could support with a much smaller price tag. That doesn’t justify the building of a consolidated vehicle garage for a county 28 miles long – how could that possible be ecologically beneficial?
But hey, why should I care? And what could I do to stop them anyways? I’m just a 15-year-old kid, a junior whose biggest problems are AP physics tests and what treats to bring to my next Verterra meeting.
But see, this beautiful forest preserve is where I meditate, where I go to practice karate, to bike, to run. The entrance at the end of my road is like a portal from this crazy, without-a-break world, to a peaceful safe haven where, if just for a couple minutes, my mind can take a break. It is, to quote Natasha Bedingfield, my pocketful of sunshine. It’s a gorgeous place that I want everyone to be able to experience.
I may just be a kid, but I’m taking a stand and getting involved with this year’s election for forest preserve president. I’m letting other people know why their vote matters, why they should care. Even if I can’t vote, I will write, I will speak, and I will be heard, because I care, and because I believe in what I’m doing – and I want other people to do the same.
Sometimes people think that just because they can’t vote and concretely change the final result, that they shouldn’t even try. But I’m here to say that’s not true – to speak to the world will change much more than an individual vote will. Whether you focus on your local forest preserve, or something bigger, like green jobs and the effects of global warming, I encourage you to speak. To find that pocketful of sunshine, that reason to care, and then go out and help other people find their pocketful of sunshine, because everything deserves one: every person, every place, and every cause.
After all, if you don’t care, then who will?