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We have a duty, America, to get involved in our nation’s politics

It is our responsibility as citizens to use our votes and our voices to spark change, to uphold the values of the Constitution and democracy.

Voters Head To The Polls On Election Day
Wrist bands noting “I Voted Today”.
Photo by by John Sommers II/Getty Images

“Do we care?” This was the question my high school American History teacher used to ask at the end of a lesson.

It was not meant to be rhetorical — he wanted to spark a discussion on not only when these events unfolded, but also how and why.

As we enter an election cycle, it is more important than ever to care. Yet this can be difficult with so much division and chaos in our nation’s politics. Add to that all of the events happening on the global stage — a trade war with China, anti-government protests in Hong Kong, military turmoil in Syria — and it is understandable to feel anger, confusion, frustration, fear and, frankly, hopelessness.

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But ignoring a problem does not simply make it go away. We have to care. Whether or not you are someone who pays attention to politics, you are part of a political society. Taxes, education, healthcare — all are influenced by politics and play a role in day-to-day life. And we need to go a step further, from caring to doing, from emotion to action. Your interests, time, skills, and money can all contribute to change. Contact your elected representatives, start or sign a petition, attend a town hall or rally, donate to or volunteer with a political campaign, canvass, make phone calls, hold a voter registration drive, stay up-to-date and informed on the news. Perhaps most importantly, you can cast your ballot at the polls.

I believe in the power of civic engagement. It is our responsibility as American citizens to use our votes and our voices to spark change, to uphold the values of the Constitution and democracy.

To borrow a quote from one of my favorite movies, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” A single vote might not be enough to decide the outcome of an election. But together, many votes can turn the tide.

So stand up and show up. The future of our country depends on it.

Eleanore Dykes, Lakeview

On sick days, teachers are no different from other workers

I must say that I am disappointed in your editorial criticizing Chicago Public Schools teachers for using their sick days, which led to a large increase in absent teachers and a corresponding increased need for substitutes, which has been difficult to fill. Until the recent strike and tentative agreement, teachers were able to “bank” 40 sick days, at which point they started to “use them or lose them.” With the agreement, that bankable figure has been increased to 244 days and it is expected that the demand for subs will be reduced as teachers save up those days.

I think you have missed an important point. Having talked with many people about this over the years, I do not know of any family or friends who work in private industry who don’t do the exact same thing. It seems most business do not allow employees to bank their sick days at all, or have much smaller caps on the number of days that can be banked. So what do they do? They use them so as not to lose them. I am surprised that you singled out public school teachers when it appears to be a widespread and common practice.

George Milkowski, West Ridge