To my friends, family, and fellow Americans:

I’m not writing to you as a staff writer at TheCollegeConservative, or as a member of any political party—but as an American citizen, just like you. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t care about politics or is generally uninterested, I only ask you to hear me out.

No doubt, as someone who is less than interested in political drivel, you’re understandably tiring of the campaign ads, the political headlines, and the endless promises of candidates. I’m not going to try to convince you who to vote for, or who not to vote for; I’m not even going to tell you to make sure you vote. I simply want to encourage  you to take advantage of the abilities you have as an individual as we approach this fall election.

Despite our many problems, we live in a nation so advanced and prosperous, that obtaining information is extremely easy, and discerning truth just takes a little time and focus. Our Founders understood the importance of free speech and press, and millions have fought to preserve that freedom. And hence, we have many, many options for obtaining our information. Don’t listen to what one news channel tells you; listen to more than one. Don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper; challenge those opinions with facts and common sense. Don’t let one candidate’s charisma sway you; hold them accountable for their past actions and current beliefs. Discern what is right from a variety of sources. Your mind is worth more than to just be an unfiltered receptacle of someone else’s agenda.

If you allow someone else to do your thinking for you, if you allow that continually reappearing campaign ad to sway you to think a certain way without further researching the candidate, or if you allow that one news channel to easily pump their opinions and slanted reporting into your head without questioning the motive and the facts, you’re only doing a disservice to those who have fought throughout history to preserve the freedom of speech and press and yourself.

Why self-empowerment? It’d be so much easier to just let someone else worry about it, right? Wrong. America can’t afford political apathy in her people.

Because we are blessed to be a nation by, for, and of the people, we all naturally have the duty to know and understand what is going on in our nation and to be a part of it—and if not be a part of it, at least be educated. We are a free people, but freedom comes with a price—and that price is eternal vigilance. We are only free until we let our guard down and allow someone else to “guard” our freedom for us— that is when we surrender our freedom in order to feel secure and unbothered by the annoyances of politics.

Each of us as Americans—not just those who are interested in politics—has been passed the torch of freedom by those who came before us. However, we’ve become complacent and passive in our defense of that torch and since we have, for too long, taken its flame for granted, that flame is beginning to die out. I fear that many of us have decided that carrying that torch of liberty is to much of a burden, and that we’d rather pass it along to someone else instead of defend it ourselves.

How can we be free if we aren’t willing to guard our freedom against those who would be willing to compromise it?

You don’t have to run for office. You don’t have to start your own political blog. You don’t have to give speeches and you don’t even have to get into heated debates with your neighbors and friends. But educate yourself—and in doing so, pick up that torch of freedom again, and defend that flame with all that you are.

We have long passed the point of having the luxury of political apathy in this country. I, for one, will never set down that torch. I will never let that flame flicker and weaken, and I will never hand it off to someone else for safeguarding no matter how heavy the burden becomes. I entreat you to do the same. You have a duty to do so as an American; our actions will determine whether or not we have a flaming torch of freedom to pass onto the next generation.

Sarah Hinds | @Sarah_Hinds76 | Webster University