This year has been relatively depressing as a whole. That’s not to say there aren’t good things that happened, nor that I myself am utterly depressed, but that the general summary of the year is more of a nightmare than a dream come true. New Star Wars movie — a dream come true. The Nintendo Switch along with two massive titles, one from the Zelda franchise and one from the Mario franchise — a dream come true. Donald Trump becoming president — a nightmare.

The entitled and privileged were fortunate enough in the past not to care enough to become engaged in politics. The underprivileged and far less fortunate of the public wasn’t much engaged either. The common view is “my vote doesn’t matter,” which really isn’t the truth at all (every single vote matters). If you’re offended as you’re reading this, you might consider (objectively) whether or not you fall into that category. I don’t mean to make you feel bad about it because I wasn’t as active nor engaged with politics at any level previous to my change in career either.

I wrote about it in a previous column — about not being perfect, but at least trying — and continue to talk about it (my goal is to be transparent, not to make you feel like I think I’m better). So, the goal isn’t to make you feel bad and I apologize if it does, but it’s important to objectively observe whether you feel bad or guilty. Is it me making you feel bad or do you feel bad because it’s true? Our actions absolutely affect the world we live in and the people we interact with (whether directly or indirectly, it still has an effect). However, we must also understand that we are not in control over how anyone else acts or reacts to something.

For example, if I get angry, who is responsible for my emotions? While someone may say something that can trigger that emotion in me, I understand that the only person in control of me and my emotion(s) is me. Sure, my emotions can be influenced by the outside world, but at the end of the day, the decision to react and how to react is my decision alone. The same goes for happiness: we have to choose to be happy and nobody else can ultimately decide for me whether I am happy or not.

When we confront issues or problems, especially with people, the natural response tends to be on the negative side. When anyone tries to hold another accountable, it’s only natural to get defensive and it becomes difficult to separate yourself from the situation and admit where you might have been wrong. It really isn’t an easy thing to do, being receptive to criticism no matter how harsh. It’s not easy at all and it’s one of the very many things that we have to constantly work on.

Let me reiterate: I’m not perfect and I don’t think I’m better than you. I will use my platform (while I have it) to hopefully change the way that we think about things publicly, however. There are many things that we may agree or disagree on, but I can promise you that I always come from a place of good intentions. In the case of Net Neutrality, the public lost.

I admit I was partially wrong in thinking the public was the problem — only 40 percent of eligible voters actually voted in 2016, after all (which means there were 60 percent of eligible voters that were complacent). It’s different this time, however. It’s different in 2017 entirely. Instead of a complacent public with politics (in general), we are seeing a steady increase in activism and engagement with politics at the local, state, and national levels.

As of Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 to kill Net Neutrality. It was clear to those who voted “yes” did NOT listen to the public. The three that voted to repeal were all men while the two who voted against (and upholding neutrality) were women. Two men and one woman were Republicans while one man and one woman were Democrats (to understand that this isn’t a partisan issue). Let me put it another way.

The three male members of the FCC ignored the 83 percent of Americans who supported Net Neutrality (Washington Post’s “This poll gave Americans a detailed case for and against the FCC’s net neutrality plan. The reaction among Republicans was striking). Actually, 75 percent of Republicans opposed repealing Net Neutrality. There is validity to the other 17 percent of people and their opinion, but there isn’t any validity when the voting record does not reflect the public’s opinion.

The problem we have is that our politicians and representatives no longer represent us. This is a fact many of us have known, throughout 2017 in the very least. Corrupted politicians aren’t voting in favor of the public, but against it. Consistently.

The repeal of Net Neutrality isn’t the end. I’m sure there will be appeals from lawyers. There is also one other thing that can happen, though … Congress has the power to reverse the FCC’s vote.

You may not think it will matter. You may think that you are only one voice. You would be wrong in both of those assumptions. The power of the public comes when people participate; each and every one of them. So while you think you’re only one voice, that voice can indefinitely expand when joined with other singular voices.

You’re given the first amendment and the right to free speech for a reason. That means you’re able to call your representatives and let them know if they’re doing a good or bad job. You are able to call your representatives and tell them your opinion.

Nebraska (especially western Nebraska) has a lot of small businesses that will hurt by this repeal, not to mention the millions of other demographics. This is a big deal to me personally (and not just because I’m an active video gamer) and it should be for you, too. We all love our Netflix and Hulu and YouTube and Facebook, etc. … but this repeal would oblige you to pay for those services, but also the speed of those services.

Your internet provider will have the right to slow down or speed up whatever website or service they want. These companies can slow down content from competitors or even block political opinions that they might disagree with. There will be extra fees for everything.

I urge you for myself and for yourself and for your loved ones and friends and families: The least you can do is call your CD3 Representative (Adrian Smith) and express your opinion on this. His office in Scottsbluff is 308-633-6333. His office in Grand Island is 308-384-3900.

This is the first real step in engaging yourself in politics. If you want change, then you need to be the one to step up and demand it. If you want change, then you need to express it to the people in power. From there, you’ll know whether or not this person represented you and your opinion and you can vote for or against people rather than a party.

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