Voting Isn't About Supporting A Political Party

Voting Isn't About Supporting A Political Party, It's About Taking Control Of Your Life

Whether you choose to believe it or not, who is elected in office has a direct bearing on your standard of living and quality of life.

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This was the first year I voted. I've been registered for a while, but every time I had the opportunity to vote, I've either been too lazy to go out or wildly pessimistic about the election in general. This year, however, I decided to act like the adult I am and fulfill my civic responsibility.

And I'm so glad I did.

When I first entered the booth, I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I actually needed one of the volunteers to help me figure out how to cast my vote (I didn't know the boards were touch screens). Even though I was clueless on how to use the technology, I was pretty well-informed about the candidates and that's what made it all worthwhile.

See, voting isn't just about the support of a party or excising your right to vote just because you can. Voting is about taking your life into your own hands. Yes, you read that right: your life. Whether you choose to believe it or not, who is elected in office has a direct bearing on your standard of living and quality of life. Researching each candidate and their policies filled me with a passion and a hunger I had never quite experienced. It wasn't the same type of emotion I feel when I think about writing or helping others, but it was just as valuable in its own right. This hunger and passion reminded me that I have work to do — that we all have work to do — and that we can do it through others.

I hear people complain constantly that they feel powerless, like slaves to a greedy, capitalist system. They feel trapped and burdened in a world that doesn't respect their civil liberties. I used to feel like that, too. I thought to myself that the world was corrupt and cold and that there was nothing else I could do but grin and bear it. Yesterday, however, I was reminded that that way of thinking is wrong.

There are people who feel just like me, who are upset with the state of our country and who are dedicating their time to cleaning it up. There are people who have a vision for the future and who are working to ensure that their vision is fulfilled.

Those people are the ones I voted for yesterday.

Perhaps they won't accomplish everything they pledged they would. Perhaps they don't care about anything they promoted in their campaign but there's also a chance that they do. There's a chance that they will make a difference that I so desperately hope to see... and on the off chance that it happens, I'll be glad to say that I helped support them and make it a reality.

So many people don't vote because they think it doesn't count; but here's the thing: whether you vote or not, someone will be elected and every time someone is, there are implications. So why not support someone who shares your vision? Why not take your vote and use it to help accomplish something you believe is important?

We all want to change the world, and there are many ways we can go about doing it. Whether you want to be an activist, or simply just spread kindness whenever you can, I encourage everyone to do their best to be the change they wish to see in the world. However, we shouldn't forget that we have a duty to help support others who want to do the same. And voting is one of the best ways we can do that.

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.

bethkrat
bethkrat
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I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.

bethkrat
bethkrat

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