The Most Important Step
Hello World, I hope you’ve read our opening letter of why we, the snowflakes, feel like we want to write about the political realm that exists in our country right now. My friends and I are taking to the internet to write about our country, the United States of America, in The Civility Initiative to hopefully start more earnest dialogue.
So my expectation with The Civility Initiative, is to try and spark a discussion because something is wrong with my generation's political outlook. Or frankly, it seems, with any generation’s outlook on politics. I love politics. The idea of talking about real world problems and trying to come up with solutions that help solve problems as well as analyzing all the various consequences is fascinating for me. Talking, discussing, and thinking about politics are things I do without fail every single day. So I want to use this project as a way to write about and think about the issues our country faces in the coming days and years. In all likelihood, I will get far more from this than I will give, but I still hope my contribution will be worth reading. One of my favorite quotes is “The most important step a man can take. It's not the first one, is it? It's the next one. Always the next step,” (Dalinar Kholin, Oathbringer). To me, participating in The Civility Initiative is that next step.
I would love for this project to pick up steam. Attract a ton of followers. Spark some real discussion. Lead to real changes. Hopefully, generate a more optimistic outlook in America’s growing generations in regards to politics. However, I’m too realistic for that, I recognize this is unlikely. To me though, someone has to try to make this change, and that’s going to be me.
You may be asking, why am I wanting to do this, what qualifies a boy from a small town in northern Utah to write about the issues this country faces. Well maybe I’m not qualified but, one of my favorite quotes, of which there are many, is this, “Somebody has to start. Somebody has to step forward and do what is right, because it is right.” (Lirin, Way of Kings) I recognize that what I write and partially, by extension, what we write probably won’t make a difference. But I want to say I tried to foster better political discussions and that I tried to be understanding. Because you never know who is watching. With social media and life in general, it’s so easy to feel like you’re shouting into a void and no one’s hearing you, but that is not the case. Basically, someone has to take that first step, so that others can follow and push further along the trail for progress.
Our country cannot change all at once. Our society will not become a shining, prosperous beacon of hope overnight. It will have to progress there, one step at at time. I love the United State’s history because we can see it taking those steps: the first colonists stepping off their ships into the new world, George Washington giving up the power of the White House, the Union deciding this country was willing to pay over 600,000 lives to bring the country back together and outlaw slavery, and America helping rebuild Europe after two devastating world wars. There have undoubtedly been times America took steps back, but I would argue we took enough forward steps that for some years, we were an example to the world. In order to become that again, we need to take the next step and try to fix our system of political discussion.
I’ve had to learn the lesson of taking the next step over and over again, and each time, I hope I get a little bit better at it, but as long as I’m taking that next step, I’m okay with it. An example of this was when I coached an ultimate frisbee team. Ironically, it was at Logan High School, in the city of Logan, which is my namesake. This was the school’s first year to have a program, and consequently, the students who joined were all relatively new to the sport.
We started our practices in the fall, and for the first month, we made very little progress beyond the basics. We spent hours in practice working on basic throws, defense, and basic offensive schemes. My students worked so hard. It was a team of freshman and sophomores who faced teams of juniors and seniors every week in our games. We lost every game of the season. But at the state tournament, we got our first win and it was amazing! Under many circumstances, this season would be considered a failure, after all a losing record is a losing record. But when a team is just starting out, you take any small victories you can get. That’s what I want to see with politics, not the huge sweeping changes that would happen in a perfect world. I want small victories that move us back towards civility.
That season was one of the most satisfying and fulfilling ventures I’ve ever had the opportunity to be a part of. We didn’t achieve much in terms of accolades or rewards, but watching the growth that happened was glorious, small as it seemed. Seeing them develop skills and gaining confidence in themselves, all of that was immensely fulfilling. However, seeing “my” (the students I coached) kids learn to love the sport that I’m passionate about was, in a selfish way, the best part of all. I see the same potential, in different ways obviously, in The Civility Initiative as I did in that high school team.
You may ask, how does a story of a young high school ultimate team relate to our nation’s political climate? Because in both, we need to start or start over. We need to learn to work together again, and in both, it is always about taking it one step at a time. Progress is only seen in grand gestures and sweeping vistas, but is accumulated in the small steps along the old dirt trail.
I want there to be a record that I tried to make things better, and while The Civility Initiative won’t be perfect, it will be worthwhile. I don’t want to sit idly by and watch as American politics descends into whatever it seems to be right now. Change happens by one small step at a time, and to me this is my next one step forward.