At the beginning of the month I started posting about GOOD’s “30 Days to Better Citizenship”. Initially I used these posts as incentives and ideas for my own daily interactions with you, the reader. I chose the topic of better citizenship because it fits so nicely with the overall theme of my blog. While I have chosen to devote some days and posts to topics other than the 30 day challenge, I want to make sure I don’t lose sight of what the folks over at GOOD are doing because I believe strongly in the idea that we all are responsible for making the world around us a better place. The whole point of this challenge – indeed, this blog – is to encourage each other to go out into the world and make a difference every day. Sometimes the things we do will be earth-shattering and life-altering. Other times they will be more subtle. No matter what we choose to do or how we decide to view the world, though, it is important to remember “the butterfly effect” – the theory that every action, no matter how great or small, leaves an indelible mark on the world. Perhaps I should have used this as a title for my blog (or maybe just a subtitle)....
But, back to the 30 day challenge. Over the past few days GOOD has been focusing a lot on voter registration and political involvement. This is important because, well, we live in a democracy and thus have the right to vote on how our government is run. So, if you are 18 or over and are not yet registered to vote, go do it. Right now. In Missouri, all you have to do is go online to the Secretary of State’s office, request a voter registration application, fill it out and mail it back in. Or head down to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Or any other state agency that provides a service to the public, such as the Department of Social Services or WIC. Or, you can go to your local government representative’s office and request an application. It’s really pretty simple. And you have no excuse not to do it.
You also have no excuse not to vote. And if you don’t exercise your right to vote, you DEFINITELY don’t have a right to complain about anything government-related. You don’t like your congressperson? Find out about his or her opponents and select an alternative option to support. Don’t like your city council? Vote for a different candidate. Or, better yet, attend a few city council meetings, find out what goes on in Council Chambers, and run for office yourself. You may find that most government leaders spend a lot more time than you once imagined trying to make your community a better place for EVERYONE, not just a select few. And sometimes this can be a LOT of work.
And, speaking of City Council members, today’s task actually encourages us to invite a member of our local City Council to be a guest speaker at an organization we belong to. Are you a member of Junior League? Why not invite a female City Council member to come speak about local initiatives to provide more jobs for women in your community? How about asking a local Council member to speak at your next Bible study about your city’s policy on homeless shelters or food pantries? Do you teach school – or are you a parent? Why not invite the Mayor to school one day to speak about your city’s local government and how it works?
Getting involved doesn’t mean you have to canvass neighborhoods or attend political rallies (although these things DO help raise voter awareness). The beauty of living in a democracy is that it allows individuals the opportunity to express their opinions and desires about their government in a variety of ways. The most important of these, though, is The Vote. Even money doesn’t speak as loudly as a large voter turnout regarding an issue or a candidate.