I’ve been a columnist for three semesters, expounding upon nearly every substantive opinion I’ve had over that time and putting it to words. It has made me challenge every thought and better articulate why I believe in the causes that I support and, sometimes, want to fight for. I’m sure many others have felt the same way — having to voice their opinions in the face of opposition and having to keep pushing until the change they’re looking for is enacted. But at the same time, writing and talking and thinking about things over and over can be exhausting. I’ve been asked to talk more extensively about my opinions with little impetus to do so.

Nevertheless, both words and actions supporting various convictions have proven to be monumental in history. Take the protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline, for example. Many people — including those potentially affected and others coming from outside the tribe — rallied to make a difference in order to reroute the pipeline. They recently achieved their goal, but I’m sure that the protesters felt dejected, hopeless and just plain tired. It takes a tireless effort to do great things in this world, and determination similar to this must be adopted by those who are passionate about a cause.

Situations can be as dire as the DAPL situation or as simple as standing up for a friend. I’m still inspired by the nonviolent protests of Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement. King could have given up or felt like he was fighting a losing battle when he was in jail, in the hospital or marching in the streets. But he and many other leaders and freedom fighters around him never lost hope and kept going, always persisting in order to make a change that would impact the world in an astounding way.

Whatever the situation is, we cannot be silent in fighting for our beliefs. We must make a choice to keep fighting amid fatigue. Too many others across the world have lost their lives or been hurt while protesting for their inalienable rights. We’re lucky to live in a country where change is possible even if ordinary citizens are leading the charge.

In one of my classes, we watched videos of the protests of the Arab Spring in Egypt, seeing thousands of people congregate in Tahrir Square. The unity of the people there was a spectacle of beauty. The president they opposed resigned as a result of the protests, but many of those protesters either ended up missing or were martyrs for their cause. These people didn’t have time to be tired because their lives were on the line. Their time was only the present.

Situations can be less dire in the United States. But crises such as the Flint water crisis are scenarios in which people must keep fighting to receive what we would think is a basic need: water. Sadly, many areas in my hometown still don’t have clean water. Babies continue to scream, and mothers have to remind the world that help is still needed. Many news stations have come and gone, tired of reporting on the same coverage. I’ve written many papers on this topic, donated time, read countless articles, given money to this cause and become increasingly fatigued from the constant coverage. I only felt that way because my home wasn’t directly affected; I can’t imagine how hard I would fight if it was. While people lose sleep over making their voices heard and going through their now-altered routines, the lead-ridden pipes stop running a block from my house.

Whatever the topic may be, we must attempt to adopt complete empathy for those who are directly affected by any injustice. If we want something to change, we must act as if something wrong is happening to us or to someone we love. It is worth it to fight through feeling exhuasted and conversations about important issues that sound like broken records. Love alone is worth the fight.

It’s completely OK to be tired of talking about President-elect Donald Trump and related issues, for example, but that shouldn’t lead to an end to discussion. Perhaps the fact that conversations about certain topics become exhaustive is good because it allows for breaks, giving people the opportunity to pause and think. This way, ideas can be more nuanced and developed, setting the groundwork for substantive conversation later on. Breaks from debate and thinking are needed as well, because we wouldn’t be able to function properly if we spent all our time focusing on a single issue. Nonetheless, we must come back quickly in dire situations because there are people out there such as the DAPL protesters who have to spend all their time fighting — it’s their well-being on the line.

So whatever it is that you are passionate about, fight for it with as much energy as you can give out. Your words and efforts can, and will, make a difference.

Chris Crowder can be reached at ccrowd@umich.edu.

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