I never noticed how rude people could be when you attempt to impose on 15 seconds of their time. I personally give a polite and to the point “no thanks” when I am randomly asked by the most recent “surveyor/save the planet/heal the animals/sign this petition to save the world person.” By no means would I ever tell one of these individuals “No…Move.” But on the day that I was given the opportunity/duty to take the role of a surveyor I now see these individuals in a different light, and empathize with them a lot more. It is amazing to me how many times in a day we neglect to put ourselves in other people’s shoes, to see through another man’s eyes. The world would be so much better if we made a constant effort to leave ourselves (if only for a moment) and try to understand the lives of the people around us. (Sorry, I feel like I’m preaching again)

This summer I’m working with an Organization called Mikva Challenge. Our mission at Mikva is to “develop the next generation of civic leaders, activists and policy-makers by providing young people with opportunities to actively participate in the political process.” (Well, that’s the elevator speech, but I actually whole-hearted believe in this organization). Today we did a survey project with the students where we went around Chicago and questioned adults about “what their top issues is in Chicago are?”

The results were actually quite interesting.

While surveying a total of 571 people total here are the issues that Chicagoans thought were most important:

Violence Safety- 30%

Education- 18%

Political Corruptness- 17%

Affordable Housing- 9%

Poverty- 8%

Transportation- 5%

Gentrification- 5%

Political Transparency- 3%

Pollution- 3%

Jobs- 2%

I notice a couple things from the survey results. First I want to pay particular attention to what the top three issues are in Chicago: violence, education, and political corruption. None of these things surprise me, if you look at a headline of the top newspapers in Chicago you are sure to find one of these things taking a dominant role in current events. I also notice that some things were obviously biased when it comes to Jobs being the least important issues. I think this bias is due to most of the surveys coming from the downtown area of Chicago during lunch time, most of these people would have more job security compared to a survey that is taken on the South side of the city.

It is also interesting to see how money sometimes perfectly matches where priorities are, and how in other ways where money is spent (or not spent) contradicts the very fabric of what people think is important. For example, people in Chicago (according to the survey) think violence and safety is the number one priority, and that priority is matched by more than a third of the Chicago city budget going towards the police department. However, it is also interesting to see how people think Education is the second most important issue, but the state provides the second lowest amount of funding in the country (right behind Mississippi).

Hypocrisy, rudeness (I still hear the echoes of a man yelling “No…Move”), survey’s and criticism of a political system that continues to get too many things wrong– all in a days work (Especially when you have a summer job working with youth and politics). Between all my rambling it all comes down to point of view. I challenge you to look deeper into the people around you, see the world from someone else’s perspective.