No one would have ever imagined me involved in politics. I didn’t watch it. I didn’t read about it. I didn’t regularly vote. I didn’t see a connection to my daily life, so I didn’t really care.
Until one day it became personal. All of a sudden I saw a connection, and I was invited in. I was terrified. Overwhelmed. Cynical. And mostly, I didn’t think I had anything to offer in the untouchable world of politics.
I was wrong. As I became a volunteer on my first election campaign, I realized that everything that brought me to that point was relevant. I knew nothing about the business of politics but I had a unique perspective. I had intuition. I had ideas and skills to share. While I thought that my life experience had nothing to do with politics, it had everything to do with politics. Because politics is about people. And all I’ve ever done is work with and for people.
As I became more involved, I became more interested. I learned more. I met inspirational people. I became excited. And I believed deeply in what I was contributing to. I still maintained my distance (I think a certain level of skepticism is healthy), but I became connected.
Interestingly, at age 35, I was one of the youngest volunteers. While not surprising, I did wonder, "How can the interests of my generation (and future) be addressed if we don’t show up?”
I now see how important it is to have someone representing my values in the political arena. Voting is an important first step. But I can’t speak strongly enough about the power of volunteering.
Volunteers contribute immensely to the success of an election campaign. And there are so many options for how you can help: answering phones, contacting potential voters, putting up signs, writing, providing food for volunteers, organizing, driving, fundraising, attending events with the candidate, scanning newspapers, and the list goes on.
Like me, you don’t really need to know much about politics. You just need to know what you believe in; care about. For yourself, your family, your community, the future. And then you share your energy to help make it a reality.
Bottom line, if we want politics with principle, we need to invest some energy. Politicians are human. They can only do so much on their own. I think we need to start approaching politics in terms of a relationship. As a shared, cooperative interaction. This requires work.
Thoreau wrote, "Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.” You have the choice as to whether this turn is for the better.
You can live the belief that all politicians are dishonest. Or, you can live the belief that we can work collaboratively with our elected representatives to create possibilities for a better world.
Politics are more than election campaigns. I invite you to make the choice to become involved today.
Marla Hunter-Bellavia is a freelance writer and owner of Ocean Spirit Communications. She can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org