This interview is the third in a series of interviews from Mishawaka, Indiana (you can find the first here and the second here). I’m not revealing any information about these interviewees until the end of the series in order to highlight the similarities of what they say (and so as not to bias readers about what their political leanings might be).
His thoughts on the media:
I try to stay up on current events, but I try not to watch the news because it jades my view of community. I never know what to trust. The inaccuracies and political bias on both sides are absurd. I’m not smart enough to know what’s true or what’s not.
On his efforts to stay informed:
I try to watch BBC World. It gives more of a broad spectrum globally of what’s important. It gives an understanding of how the world sees America. I was in India during the last election, and it was crazy to see the reactions when Trump won. BBC World doesn’t feel as jaded. I do also pick up the local newspaper. Because I’m a nerd, I’ll even go on the city’s website to read the minutes about hot topics such as education. I don’t do that all the time.
What it means to be a good citizen within the Church community:
Being a good citizen of the church community is loving everyone and not judging them; coming along side them in times of need and loving them right where they are. It doesn’t matter what religion they are. At least in our church that’s the case; I know there are crazy Christians, just like there extremists in any religion who have very conservative beliefs and believe in exclusion. It’s not just about being a good citizen locally. It’s about building a home for a Hindu person in India, too: if they have need, they have need.
What Christ has taught him about citizenship:
Since I’ve been following Christ, I’ve learned to love and not judge. So, if someone is a member of the gay community, I don’t hold a hard-line and say, “no.” That’s not what Christ would have done.
How Americans come up short as citizens:
Americans in general aren’t really great citizens. I get to travel around the world and see places that have really great community. Unity is a part of community. I don’t know if there’s a lot of unity in many communities in the United States, especially with the suburban movement. I drive in my garage, put my door down, and close the door. In where I have been in India, people do life together in public, regardless of politics. I think social media has divided our communities. It gives people a platform who would never have a platform, and people say things they would never say, ever, standing in front of me. It’s divisive.
Why he has hope:
I do think, though, that people are inherently good. When things happen like these hurricanes, and 9/11, I know there’s a loss of life, but I cherish the way people become good citizens in those times.
His civic role model:
I think the Mayor of South Bend, Pete Buttigieg is a great citizen. He has his political views and political agendas, like everyone, but I really feel like he’s for South Bend. This rebirth and resurgence in downtown South Bend. I think a big part of that is our Mayor and his commitment. I think he thinks about his good decisions and his bad decisions.
Why he voted, despite concerns about both candidates:
I thought both candidates were bad. It was my civic duty to vote, though. I probably wouldn’t have voted for my candidate if the other party had nominated someone else.
How schools are coming up short:
I think we’ve sacrificed the teaching of character and morals in the last thirty years. We keep pushing everything down lower-and-lower. Now we teach geometry in fourth grade! Teachers can’t do it anymore, because there’s not enough time and because people don’t watch teachers guiding them the way.
The three things all Americans need to know about America:
People need to understand that the first people who came here, other than the Native Americans, came here because of persecution. This is a country of immigrants. I know we need to protect borders and all of that, but that’s who we are.
We need to understand the role religion played in the founding. It’s not all sunshine and roses. Take the treatment of the Aztecs and people in Northern Mexico (by the Spanish). And the persecution and enslavement of Catholics.
We also need to know what democracy means. We are a democratic republic – we’re not going to vote on every single thing. When we vote on the House and Senate, those might be even more important than the Presidency – they’re the ones that create laws. But so many people just straight ticket vote, because their family has always rooted for Notre Dame and are Republicans. Learn about the candidates and what they stand for so that they can represent you.
What makes Americans great:
We are people who step up. I think that’s what makes us the greatest country on earth. Compassionate, servant-minded: that’s what it means to be an American.