There are moments when history calls upon us to forever change the course of our lives and the lives of our children. Just as our forefathers were once called to alter history in times of crisis, war, and depression, it is now our moment. We are being called upon to make a decision; one whose consequences will reverberate across our futures, forever altering the lives of children not yet born. Our decision this election day is more than one between two candidates. It is one that forces us, as a generation, to answer to something greater than ourselves. We are being called upon by history to turn the wheel of progress.

Many young people are rightfully upset at the state of the decision they must make. Young progressives’ interests were cast aside in favor of a traditional candidate. A graying career bureaucrat with a questionable history and a penchant for mistakes. And so this generation now is faced with two options: a demagogue with a record of executive malfeasance, and an aging politician who is, despite his insistence otherwise, a product of his time. But even in those two choices lies a greater gamble. We must realize that this choice, this election, is more than two bitter old men. It is an election where progress hangs in the balance. This choice is between moving forward, and not moving at all.

Do not feel discouraged by our circumstances, however dire they have become. Hopelessness is an addictive feeling. It grips our souls and fools us into thinking that nothing we can do matters. It tells us to spit in the face of action. Yet, when given the chance to do something, choosing to stand aside and do nothing is to let hopelessness win. One does not walk away when the going gets tough. The wheel of progress is not turned by idle hands. We cannot leave it up to fate to decide which direction it will turn, if it turns at all. It is up to all of us, to put in the work required to ensure that the wheel turns and our futures are free from oppression, from hatred, from want, and from fear. This election, we are given the opportunity to turn the wheel through our votes.

The two choices we are presented with are not the same, despite what the critics will say. One choice will put a halt to progress for decades, ensuring that the wheel of progress remains fixed and untouchable. The other choice will keep the wheel turning slowly, but turning nevertheless. These are the true stakes of this election. By refusing to vote, we leave our futures in the hands of someone else. Progress is not instantaneous. It is an upward battle against the elements. It is a slow, grueling, exhausting affair. Yet, the wheel must turn because someone has to turn it.

Progress requires us to believe that things can get better. If we cannot believe that things will get better, progress will not happen, and nothing will get better. This moment calls on us to do something. To vote. To protest. To mobilize. We must continue to turn the wheel, ever so slowly, ensuring that progress happens in spite of all the odds. For the future is in the hands of those who are willing to forge it. And there is no future for us if we are not willing to sacrifice for it.

We are at the end of a generation-long battle between progress and regression. This is our opportunity to make the choice that breaks the back of progress, or pushes it into a new, brighter frontier. For the wheel of progress awaits, and it is us who will be the ones to turn it in our favor. Years down the line, our descendants will turn back to us with wide eyes and they will wonder what we did to ensure that the world we left behind was better than the one we were born into. We cannot simply tell them that we did our best. We have to prove it to them through our actions and our choices.

Every generation has its turn at the wheel. Now, it is ours.

JESSAI FLORES is a sophomore in Davenport College. Contact him at jessai.flores@yale.edu.