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It's In Your Hands

Melissa Bender

      In spring and fall each year, a nationwide competition sponsored by The Way to Happiness Foundation takes place, with children of six age groups (4 - 6, 7 - 9, 10 - 11, 12 - 13, 14 - 15 and 16 - 18) participating with essays on a precept from The Way to Happiness.

      Melissa Bender from Torrance High School, 1996 grand prize winner in the 16 to 18-year-old category, chose as her theme Precept 10, “Support a Government Designed and Run for All the People.”

By Melissa Bender

magine for a moment a world where criticizing the government, even in jest, brings a mandatory 20-year prison term. A world where government permission is required before a couple is allowed to conceive a child. A world where a select group decides what the government will do and whom it will benefit, and where citizens have no say in the government they live under.

      Sounds impossible? Unfortunately, it isn’t. When people lose interest in government activities, power may be usurped by an unscrupulous person or group. But when citizens support their ruling government, and when government is designed for their protection and one that they have a voice in, this is unlikely to happen. When citizens are involved in government, this will benefit their country and, ultimately, their world.

      Citizen involvement in the government can prevent an unsavory candidate from gaining power, and can provide the country with representatives who are politically what the majority desires. When citizens get involved in running their government, it changes for the better. There are many ways to effect a change, especially in the United States, where the government is truly designed for and run by the people. Unlike some nations where citizen participation is actively disdained, in the United States it is an integral part of government. With no citizens to run for office, no citizens to vote, or no citizens to staff government offices, the government would disintegrate, leaving the possibility of a new regime less open to citizen participation.

      The Constitution provides a protection of basic human rights for American citizens and strictly limits government powers because the Founding Fathers were afraid of the United States becoming a tyrannical monarchy. It also provides ways for citizens to participate in and support their government, mainly intending for citizens to effect change by voting. In recent years, everyone in the United States who is a citizen over 18 years of age has been enfranchised regardless of ethnicity or sex. This happened because citizens protested and fought for it.

      Today, though, many people, disillusioned with government, refuse to vote or participate in government. Instead of refusing to participate, citizens should get more involved and change the government. Making the government, and then the world, a better place is in the citizens’ hands. It is the citizens’ government, and ultimately the creation of a better world will be effected by those who participate in the political process. *

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