During an SGA Intern Meeting, a professor at WVU named Daniel Brewster gave me an analogy that changed my entire perspective of human ability: personal power and positional power. “Personal power is the power you give yourself,” Brewster (as he’s commonly referred to) told us. “Positional power is the power that is given to people based on their role in society.”
Often times, when I scroll through my Facebook or Twitter feeds, I see a lot of people say things like “Well, there’s nothing I can do about that.” A lot of folks think that because they are not in a granted position of power, that they aren’t allowed to do anything. This is exactly what they want you to think.
By granting yourself an implied role, you are only hurting the cause, not helping it. Women’s suffrage was earned through the protesting of everyday people, as well as the civil rights movement. Many people, just like you and I, have made more of a difference than any politician ever could. This has expanded tenfold, through the age of the Internet and hashtag activism; we are revolutionizing the way that we make our voices heard, which involves more typing than speaking. Because we are doing less physical protests, many feel as if the meaning is diminished. If anything, it has amplified protests and made them more accessible to those who would have been unable to become involved otherwise. Who are we to say we’re not worthy of the ability to make a change?
The people in office are not representing us because we do not represent ourselves.
Taking on the role of civic responsibility isn’t exactly an easy one, but it’s monumental in being a part of the change you want to see in the world. We have the ability to call upon our State Senators, Governors and even local governments to ensue change. Just because we elect these people does not mean we forfeit our personal power in order for them to achieve their positional power.
An amazing way to become involved is through an organization entitled ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union); they have an office in every state, including Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. They offer classes on civic engagement on multiple college campuses and advocate for a variety of causes and social issues. For more information, head to their website here.