Chili-spiced mocha steaming in hand, I shuffle around one last corner to the end of the line for the Bernie Sanders rally. Three blocks out. I can see my breath.
As we inch towards The Fox, I bury my chin into my scarf and with shrunken, icy fingers, pull my coat tight around my body to fight the wind. Atlanta can be cold as hell sometimes.
I notice the demographic. Mostly young; my age group, save for a few. Ethnically diverse. Families of all orientations. Lively and sharp.
All the way around the theater and filtering into the entrance, people are shouting and chanting,
"Feel the Bern!" "It's Bernie's World!"
Everything is humming with the future. The high ceilings feel necessary, like a smaller room would've burst.
When we make it to our seats, the room is buzzing. When he steps on stage, we are on fire.
He speaks about Wall Street, health care, diplomacy, the prison system, the wage gap, saving the environment, college tuition, and other pressing issues.
He doesn't speak like a politician, he speaks like the middle class; like a man who wants justice.
We all like that.
He doesn't do bullshit.
The room is on their feet with, "no one who works 40 hours a week should struggle to make ends meet."
They're clapping until their hands tingle to, "it's time we make college tuition free."
They've worn their voices thin by the time he gets to foreign policy.
I watch a single mother hold her son up high in the air when we hear, "a woman should receive equal pay for doing the same work as a man."
Her tired body rises and believes again.
The lights are never dim and the crowd is never silent. It's fire all the way through.
I can't stop myself from periodically turning to my friend and saying, "I feel like such a good American!"
I say it jokingly, with a little laugh on the corner of my mouth, but I mean something by it.
It feels good to be here.
It feels good to know who the presidential candidates are, what stances they take, what pressing issues we must consider, and furthermore, what is happening in the world at large.
It feels good to care. It feels good to be in a theater of 5,000+ people who also care.
(I'll stray from writing about Bernie's stances, which you can read about here, or why I think he's one to consider, because isidewith.com tells me I side with him 94% so this could quickly turn into a plug. But mostly I'll stray from it because BERNIE FOR PREZ isn't the point I want to make.)
The point I want to make is this:
We should care about current events.
We should care about policies.
We should care about government.
We. Should. Care.
It might sound like a tired cry.
Like a bitter old man sputtering about the state of the world we're living in.
But it's not like that. Or maybe it is. Either way.
Just care. Because we, the people, are the ones who make up this country. We, the Joes and Janes, are the ones who live with the policies we create. We, the humans, are the ones who get to decide how the story goes. Our government should be ruled by the majority. We should be practicing democracy (not oligarchy). But in order to practice healthy, productive democracy,
We must care enough to educate ourselves.
We already gorge ourselves on information. The fastest way to lose 21 pounds before Christmas. The best shade of lipstick to wear for your skin tone. The difference between women who drink white or red wine (because reading about the over-simplification of women, this time based on the kinds of fermented grapes we drink (?), is truly a good use of our time).
We consume Netflix and video games and fiction and non-fiction and sports and I-don't-know-what-you're-into but you consume it. A lot.
Not all of what we consume is bad. Duh. Don't make me disclaimer this.
Obviously it's good to read, and eat, and work, and play, and have relationships, and even indulge in the occasional mindlessness of a good Bachelorette-and-wine night.
But somewhere in the middle of that, could you watch a debate or two? Or all of them?
Could you read up on why the conflict in the middle east is so damn complicated?
Could you have lunch with someone who believes differently than you do, and engage in a diplomatic, respectful discussion? Could you step outside of your staunch political stance and try to imagine another perspective?
It could make a difference.
It could change how we vote. It could change how we relate to one another.
It could give us some perspective, because there are a lot of things happening, and it's good for us to get outside of our own smallness and consider how much there is to be thankful for, and how much there is left for us to change and make better.
It could shape our future as a nation.
As a planet.