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Column: Key Issues Dont Disappear At Elections End

This story was written by Millie Tran, Daily Bruin

Thousands of people campaigned tirelessly for their respective candidate, and one campaign saw the product of its hard work materialize with Obama winning the presidency. But the grueling months of campaigning are over. The political jargon from pundits is over. The passion and drive to get someone elected has reached its climax, and we are left in a state of complacency.

If you didnt follow the presidential race, you may have missed one of the most exciting elections in Americas history, but thats OK. Its never too late to follow current events. In fact, today or tomorrow would be an opportune time. The issues havent disappeared: The economy is still unstable, the health care problem is still looming, the war is ongoing and a bevy of other pertinent issues are still lingering just below the surface. Now that weve voted and received an answer as to whom we believe can best tackle the issues facing our nation, we shouldnt accept the answer passively.

The relationship between questions and answers is a difficult one. In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was the answer. It brought a formal end to World War I on the provision that Germany and its allies pay reparations, disarm and accept almost full responsibility for the start of the war.

The Treaty of Versailles may have been the answer, but it didnt address the question:Who would keep Germany from rising again as a military power? Then again, maybe that wasnt even the question. At a time when the world was in such an upheaval, the treaty was unable to build a lasting peace. Thus, Germany rearmed and as history goes, a second world war.

The question of climate change saw its answer in the Kyoto Protocol. It categorized countries into Annex 1, or industrialized countries, and Non-Annex 1 countries. These classifications determined how different countries would be responsible for tackling the problem.

While this answered the question of categorization and responsibility, questions of fairness remained.

In following current events, the mere act of observing facts and being cognizant of what is happening has the power to change the way we view the question. Current events arent limited to just international relations or election season, though.

Following the news used to be a daunting task for menot because I was uninterested, but because I felt that I didnt have the whole history of a story yet,and I couldnt put what I just read into context and make it relevant. Ive come to realize that I dont have to know every intricate detail of oil and the history of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to understand that gas prices surged this summer. Knowing the history is important, but it is not imperative and shouldnt discourage people from following the news.

The context doesnt need to be built from point A of the timeline to point B. You can build your knowledge from somewhere in the middle and slowly fill in the gaps your own little grassroots endeavor to be an informed citizen. You can begin to form context and make it relevant with the more you know.

Look at what is happening around you. Hopefully the initial immersion will spark a curiosity that leads you to explore the finer details of history. We cannot assume to derive answers merely through osmosis it is an active process of inquiry and constant reevaluation. So the election is over. Know the answer, but keep reading and keep following, because the questions continually change. Its never too late, because the question can never really be answered.

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