The other day I contributed comments to a political blog. It’s kind of out of character for me and something I rarely do. I prefer story telling. But I was moved to address the apathy, yes apathy, of some Americans and the lack of participation in our political process. Of course, being a Democrat, I was addressing my disappointment in the last election. But it’s so much deeper than any particular political party and so much bigger than money.
Now. (Yes, “now” with a period. It’s a complete statement. I learned it from my mother and it has infinite meaning. More on that another time.)
Now. (again) These are the things I am passionate about.
Optimism. Compassion and loving kindness. Service. Food (always.) And — owning the political process. Speaking truth to power. WE are the power.
I can’t help but wonder how an astonishingly astute population can languish in such an astoundingly apathetic civic consciousness (Nope. that was not a two syllable sentence). Not until the current demonstrations — extraordinary in the tens of thousands — about police shootings of unarmed black men have I seen such a conscious unified movement. Folks are actually protesting for human rights issues in the United States. It reminds me of my own coming of age in the 60’s and, by God, it makes my heart glad!
Now let’s see…
Apathy: Indifference. Lack of concern. Lack of interest.
Truth: Webster defines it as a case or idea accepted as true or a statement of fact.
Well. Here is a statement of fact. We have become a nation filled with pitifully apathetic people who do not or cannot understand that our participation in the political process is as necessary as breath is for life. Eating, sleeping or, er um, copulating is not required for political freedom; showing up is the requirement. We vote. We try to educate other voters. We help build a free and democratic society brick by intentional brick.
All this talk — blah, blah, blah — about speaking truth to power can be so much wasted oxygen. We help speak truth to power by being a part of the process.
City Council, Mayor, and elected local leadership; County leadership; State leadership; national representation; president. Brick by effing brick. It’s not enough just to vote for the president.
What we have to understand is that folks are ignorant of how democracy works. Over decades, folks have come to believe that all they need to do is vote for the top.
Sigh. The presidential vote is not the sum total of our responsibility for living in a democracy. No matter what barriers are erected (district redistribution, voter ID laws, etc. –and folks will try to stop you) to negatively impact potential nonwhite and non wealthy voters, we who care about the quality of the political process and how that process affects our lives on a daily basis cannot underestimate the importance of participating in local to national elections of our legislators.
But folks don’t know how our political process works. I love this website: https://www.icivics.org/
Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is the chairperson of the board of this organization that helps folks understand the way our system works. Please pass it on.
“Speak truth to power” is a great principle. But a great principle is only great when the folks living by that principle make it so. Speak truth to power. We are the power, folks. The truth shall set us free.
That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.