“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
With the current social and political climate in America today, it has been very easy for me to feel utterly helpless in the face of all the turmoil. Especially when so many things are happening on the national stage. And I start to ask myself a very dangerous question:
What difference can I make?
And this is a very dangerous question indeed. Because if a hundred thousand people ask themselves that question and decide to stay home on election day, it makes a difference. If a hundred thousand people ask themselves that question and never act on their beliefs, it alters the social climate around us. If a hundred thousand voices stay silent, we cease to learn from one another.
Hear me – you may feel helpless, but you don’t need to be helpless.
I can’t stress this enough, friends. We may have a terribly broken system, but it’s the one we have to work with. And the only way it will change is if we elect representatives who want to change it instead of continue to exploit it.
Have to work that day? You can still vote, and your employer has to let you.
Need a ride? Uber is offering free rides to the polls on election day! (https://www.uber.com/newsroom/drivethevote).
Or, mail in your ballot ahead of time if that option is available to you.
If you’re not yet a registered voter, make sure to register before your state’s deadline. Here in Kansas, the deadline is October 16th, but check with your individual state’s laws.
Every county also needs workers to help ensure that voting day runs smoothly. I just applied to help out in the county where I reside, and there’s even a bit of financial compensation since I’ll have to take the day off of work. If you have availability on November 6, see if you can help out!
On January 19, 2019 there will be a second Women’s March in Washington D.C., and in many other cities around the United States, including Kansas City. If you are able, show up and make your voice heard. And keep an eye open for other activist events or volunteer opportunities in your area, too!
Invest in your circle
While voting and marching and getting involved in local and national politics is important, you have another job to do. Each and every one of us has circles of friends and family that we interact with regularly. How can we invest in them? How can we be parents, brothers, sisters, and friends who are filled with integrity and a willingness to listen? Be an example, with your words and actions. Hurt with those who hurt. Talk about why racial and gender equality are important. Encourage those around you to be the best people they can be.
Whether you’re hurt, angry, traumatized, heartbroken, or all of the above, take the time to rest and invest in yourself. Self care is never selfish, no matter what is going on in the world. You’ll be all the more prepared to act if you’ve been prioritizing your own health and mental well-being.
The opposite of helplessness is not overextension.
And if you, too, wish to see change in this world – then I’ll see you on the front lines.