Why young people should write to their government

A meeting of the United States House of Representatives in the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

In my home country, the United States of America, we have two main political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. I live in a state where all 6 of our representatives to the federal government in Washington are Republicans. Despite that, my views align closer with the Democrats. Also, I can't vote because I am only 16. You might think that this would mean I cannot influence my government, but I have found ways around that. I have found that by writing to government officials, attending local government meetings, and having professional conversations with policymakers, experts, and my friends and family.

My first piece of advice is to stay educated. Up-to-date education about issues is incredibly important if you want to talk about them. Make sure to check for the source of the information. Who said it? Who saw it? Why are they telling you this? What are their motives? Are they experts on the topic? Make sure the information is up to date. Our world is ever-changing and interconnected. Take issues like COVID-19, public health officials often have to change guidance as they learn about more research on the virus and disease. Also, check what they are saying by reading beyond the headlines and fact-checking. Articles often have to use dramatic headlines to draw viewers in. If you feel a sudden burst of emotion, especially anger, you need to make sure that you read more. In a world where articles are in a constant fight for clicks, likes, and shares, the headlines are often overly exaggerated. Make sure to fact-check by finding related articles and seeing what others are saying. If an article says something about an event that five other articles from the same time don't mention, it might not be true. Not having the most accurate information is not only causing harm but can be a major embarrassment if you are proved wrong.

Once you are well-educated on these issues, take action. If the issue is political, check what your government officials and politicians are saying and doing about it. If your government officials are ignoring the issues important to you, tell them. Write a respectful, action-oriented letter to them on their website. If they are taking action, thank them. You can also create social media posts about it. Make sure to include a link to a credible source about it, tag officials and politicians, and use hashtags. You can also call your politicians. Make sure that you know if the issue is for your local, state/regional, or national government.

Lastly, stay active in the issue. Talk about it in friendly, polite conversations with friends, family, and neighbors. Stay up to date on the news. And, if your issue involves your local government, attend meetings of your city council or like body. You can also talk to experts on these issues.

Despite being young, you can always make major changes in the world.