The 2016 election has left some peoples’ heads spinning.
National political turmoil has encouraged people who’ve never been politically active before to get engaged. Calling your congressperson is one way to dip your toes in the political waters, but getting involved at the local level can lead to change you can see.
We talked to some people who have some experience standing out in a crowd, and they all agree: There’s more to effective involvement than just showing up.
“Just being a member of a group doesn’t do anything for you. I mean, you just show up,” said April Boling, a taxpayer advocate. “If you are going to use a group to kind of be a little bit more heard, you need to attend regularly, you need to be responsible and you need to seek a leadership role in that group.”
Yet connecting with others who have the same concerns as you doesn’t have to be a monumental undertaking. Sometimes staying small can bring about its own results. That’s how Enrique Morones started his nonprofit Border Angels, which helps save the lives of migrants crossing the U.S-Mexico border.
“It doesn’t have to be as big as we’ve become,” Morones said. “It could be really small. It could be two or three people, that’s good enough. We firmly believe in the power of one, the fact that one person can make a big difference.”
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
Showing up is not just step one, but for many a huge Indiana Jones leap of faith. Do you know anyone that when given a burger cooked the wrong way for them, eats it or grumbles in silence? Many, many people somehow have been given a message not to "rock the boat". So, for these people gentle, very gentle and continuous encouragement is needed. The only other instance is if they encounter a terrible injustice or abuse that raises their conscientiousness to level that requires them to act.
Letter writing by them, on their own, to their local representatives has much more impact than a robo mailer or emailer.
But, a very effective action is for people to speak before a school board, a city council, or some other public forum. That three or five minute will spoken message can move mountains. I know.
But, being an activist is not taught, per se, in high school. When can be the gateway is a speech and debate class.
But, the most effective activism is underpinned by passion, usually for other human beings.
Being informed today is not an easy task. Our sources of information are often tainted by how our resources direct their point of view. In college, well before the internet, I often would have to look at stacks of information in order to get a closer vision of the facts, truth. Now, we can't fully trust our news organizations.
OK, I get it with respect to local issues. How about national ones? How does a single individual have an impact if his congressman and Senators agree with him and those congressional leaders that are on the other side do not even bother to read communications from him because he does not live in their district?