The Importance of Hope

Audrey Soukup, Co- Editor

Almost exactly four years ago today, I stood at the base of the Washington Monument surrounded by half a million people also participating in the Women’s March. We were outraged and disturbed by the man elected as our president. Most of all however, we were scared. Scared for the next four years, for the future of our country. 

 For me, the whole election process was quite difficult. While any normal eighth grader might have avoided the constant flow of news and bias, I was consumed by it. My parents are veterans, and the importance of staying informed and being an active participant of our democracy was instilled in me at a young age. In addition, eighth grade civics class allowed me to be fully immersed in politics throughout the entirety of the day. Whether it was for a classroom debate or simple research in my freetime, I was very up to date on the world around me. This allowed me to form my own opinions on the topics on the tables; however, due to the fact that I was only fourteen, my opinions and thoughts were often looked down upon from adults around me.

I can recall a time in my church confirmation class where I can first remember my extreme frustration with how others viewed me. It was the day after the election, and emotions were high. Everyone had an opinion and a thought about what was to come. As I sat there listening to my group leader, I can remember her stating facts in regard to the election that were completely false. While I tried to keep my mouth shut for awhile, ultimately, I couldn’t help but weigh in on the conversation, calling her out for the false information she was spreading. In general, I am usually a fairly shy and reserved person, however, when it comes to politics and what I believe in, not much deters me from citing my research and sharing my opinion. 

As I started talking I could see her facial expressions start to switch as if what I was saying bothered her. She immediately started to refute my evidence stating that as a young girl who isn’t even able to vote, I did not know what I was talking about.  I can’t even begin to express how her remarks made me feel. In addition to pointing out my gender, she belittled me and my thoughts, making me feel dumb, simply due to the fact that they contrasted hers. 

Despite political views, I think we can all agree that based on prior polling, the outcome of the election was quite shocking. I can’t even begin to describe how panic-stricken my household was; each of us worried for what the future held. Those comments made to me by my group leader, not only failed to deter me from wanting to share my opinion, but made me want to say it louder. While many people may feel hopeless in this situation, my mom, sister, and I made it our mission to get our voices heard in any way possible. The Women’s March on Washington was the perfect opportunity, so without any hesitation, we packed our bags and headed to our nation’s capital.

The Women’s March on Washington reinstated the hope I have for our country. As soon as we boarded the metro, the sea of pink hats and signs welcomed us in. While we all came from different parts of the country, from all walks of life, we were there united under one common cause. Despite the crowds, all were respectful and peaceful. The fear of the presidential election was replaced with love, hope and activism. No longer did I feel an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, as I witnessed the power of the people gathered to support and fight for my rights as a young woman.  

Today, I can rightfully say that the atmosphere around me is different. While the past four years were certainly not easy to endure, we are the fortunate group that can say that we made it out on the flip side. While my younger self may have been frustrated with the then current political situation, I can now say that I was able to fulfill my civic duty and cast my first ever vote in the 2020 presidential election. Though our country, now more divided than ever, faces a long road ahead, I can’t express how happy I am to see that my voice has been heard. Now rather than fearing the future, I look forward to what is to come.