Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Citizen's Guide to Political Activism

"All politics is local." Tip O'Neill

Before you read any further, I recommend you read this: I'm Taking A Break From Politics!

For those who have been at this political stuff for a while, you already know what I'm talking about. Chances are that you are reading this because you want to change unfair drug laws, be part of that "reform movement" you've heard about, reduce property taxes, etc..., but you are unsure how to begin. Chances are you or either someone you know was affected in some manner and it made you realize that something wasn't right and it inspired you to get involved.

You don't need experience in organizing to take action now. If you're motivated to make (real) changes, and to work with others who feel the way you do, then that is a start. Events can be a neighborhood planning meeting, a media interview, or a potluck, to name a few examples.

My own experiences have taught me three important lessons: First, real change begins with you. Think Globally, Act Locally! Today, it is a given that "everyone" has an automobile or cell phone. But how did we get here? Well because 100 and something years ago, some people had the crazy idea to create a mechanical horse in their kitchen or the stable. Now if we were to see a horse today, we wouldn't know what to think. Things don't all of the sudden happen at once. Real change operates very much in the same manner as dynamite. It doesn't blow up at once, it begins with a spark.

Second, network with like-minded people. Once in the distant past, people lived as family units, tribes, hunter-gatherer types. Over the course of time, as more people with all their unique aspects come into interaction with each other, some people had the idea that we should find a way to handle disagreements and various disputes that inevitably arose. Thus we had the appointment of councils in which sitting members were chosen by the general population or the heads of the families. From there, we had the rise of city-states, empires, and republics to name a few.

Today, it is easier to find people with common interests all over the world and locally to get involved by simply joining a social networking site like Facebook or Meetup. It is very much the technology of our time much like the telegraph and printing press were in another era. Through the use of these technologies which are more cost-effective and easier to operate, it enables the average person on the street to get more involved in the process whereas creating and owning a television network, a newspaper company or radio station generally takes a bit more investment and capitol which may not be readily available.

Thirdly, be your own leader. Be yourself even as you work with like-minded people or work to hash out differences that you have. For more, read "When You Have To Rely on Bredesen." I'm a Christian who is single, has no kids, and a college student to put it in a nutshell. Yet I have worked with atheists, Jews, homosexuals, democrats, republicans, blacks, women to name a few where we had an issue or several issues in common. My way of looking at it is that it won't make much of a difference what your label is when in the end, we are rounded up and sent to a death camp. Some people prefer the terms concentration camp or reservation. It is merely a matter of semantics. Just as real change for the better doesn't happen all at once, tyranny doesn't come in a single night either. It took Adolf Hitler in the neighborhood of 10-15 years from the time he began until the time he was even appointed chancellor of Germany. The rest should speak for itself.

In any given situation where you are interacting, be it family members, friends, classmates and so on and so on, you are always going to have those who are more assertive than others, those who stand out more or those who have this thing about them. Put me in a small discussion group and I can generally do pretty well. But if you ask me to give a speech in front of a bunch of people, I would most likely decline and just refer people to my blog. I am very much in my element being the person who organizes the campaign, but I will never been the candidate so help me God.

So, go ahead and get it done. Best Wishes!

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