Monday, April 30, 2012

The People Don't Know Their Power

The People Don't Know Their True Power

There have been a lot of conversations about North Carolina's proposed Amendment 1. It's a hot topic, and voting happens on May 8th. This post isn't about the amendment, where I stand on it, or how you should vote.

This is, however, an exploration of how much your vote counts--even when you feel the odds aren't in your favor. It's easy to discredit a single vote because we live in such a large country. There are more than 311 million people here, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Last weekend I was chatting with someone about voting, specifically about the amendment in North Carolina. Based on the content in my Facebook stream, I was shocked to learn that the amendment has a chance of getting passed. We chatted about why that possibility exists, and how the demographics of our state might influence such a thing. One of the conclusions drawn from that conversation: each vote matters--a lot. Even (or especially) when it seems the odds are against a voter.

We may feel like our vote doesn't count here, but it really does.

We, as citizens, have an opportunity to think for ourselves, then make an educated decision on a matter. We have an opportunity to meet with our elected officials and tell them how we feel, influencing their actions. We have a voice, we have the power to be heard, and we have the opportunity to change the world.

But making an educated decision often takes time, research, and effort. More often than not, it can feel like a big burden to many people.

Earlier today I talked with another man about this amendment, sharing what I know in an unbiased way so he could make his own decision. He had gotten confused about what it meant to be for or against it. He hadn't heard all of the details, and didn't feel like he had the time to make an educated decision--so he isn't going to vote at all.

The cartoon at the top of this post is spot on: we, the people, don't know our true power.

Working on Abandoned Allies has made me realize that being a citizen of the United States is more than just opportunity. It's also a responsibility. People in other places around the world watch Americans because our country is a world power. If we, the people, don't take the time to vote or educate ourselves on the matters, politicians get full reign to do what they think is in our best interest. This, it seems, has led to a negative reputation for our people and our country.

Like the subject matter of Abandoned Allies, this is a complex issue. You can't summarize how all Americans behave because there are so many of us and we live in a very diverse country. I can't provide scientific evidence at the present time, just anecdotal evidence about our approach to voting here in the States. It's something I'd like to explore further if / when I have the time. (See what I did there?)

Nonetheless, I encourage my fellow Americans to take the time to learn about what's happening in your community, and find a way to become an active citizen. People in other parts of the world are being thrown in jail for speaking out about what they believe, but we have a chance to speak freely.

What we have is a luxury: a chance to be heard. What we have is a responsibility: a chance to vote. What we have is a bright future: a chance to make a difference in the world.

Go vote. You don't know your own power, my friends.

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