We Keep Moving Forward
I’m writing this without knowing the results of our 2020 presidential election. I’m writing this as the entire world watches and waits. I am writing this as I wonder how we will move forward. After all of the votes have been counted, what happens next? Regardless of who is given the title of president for the next four years, there will be over 60 million people who want something different for this country. And I wonder how we can reconcile with each other for that.
I don’t think any of us know “the answer” to that question. There’s no magic wand that we can wave to fix the challenges we face as a society. But, even without these answers, we can recognize that each of us plays a critical and unquestionable role in our future as a country. Everyone’s road forward will look a little different and may be influenced by many factors. The issues or causes that are most important to you, your ability status, and decisions about your personal safety all may influence how you can engage. If you aren’t sure where to pick up and begin, these are some of the things that I have considered as a way to foster positive civic action:
- Talk about our divisions. We are a country divided. I hate to write those words. But it’s not a secret that we are politically and socially polarized. It’s contended that some of the reason for this is that we don’t talk about it. Well, at least not in the ways that matter. We need to unplug from our social media soapboxes, reach across this divide, and actually engage in thoughtful discourse. It will be messy and it will be scary, because we know what is at stake. But we need to find a way to navigate these conflicts in a way that doesn’t push us further apart and away from solutions.
- Get involved in the political process earlier. Elections might not happen every day, but the political process never stops. As citizens there are many ways that we can get involved in politics well before the next election. Consider attending city council meetings, taking steps to propose or initiate new legislation, running for local office, joining a board or commission, writing to your representatives, or volunteering for community organizations.
- Develop media literacy. Media literacy is what allows us to access, critically evaluate, and create media and media messages. Because we live in a time of media saturation, it is more important now than ever for us to be responsible consumers. We can start by simply asking ourselves two simple questions when looking at content, “What is the intent of this message? And who created it?”. These questions can help us to think critically about these sources and how they add to our knowledge base or opinions.
- Put effort into improving your community. Be a force for good by dedicating your time, knowledge, or resources to organizations and efforts that will positively impact others. Supporting small businesses, non-profit groups, and activists helps to build strong, connected communities while also placing societal importance on the issues and causes that are most important to citizens.
- Be willing and eager to keep learning. There is so much to know, about our own political and social issues alone, let alone everything else going on in the world. We don’t have to know everything or have our opinions etched in stone. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know, yet”. If we are open to learning then we can guarantee that what we know and what we believe will change over time. This process isn’t easy, and it can be confusing or uncomfortable, but it means that we are willing to change, to grow, and to keep up with our ever dynamic world.
Finally, stay involved and engaged. It’s easy to be an active participant in the political process on the precipice or in the wake of change. But, it’s just as easy to slip back into “business as usual” until the next election. Long lasting change is a process that takes resilience and endurance. Each generation has had to do this work and now it’s our turn.
I don’t know what will happen when the election is called. But I do know that we can all do something to make the world a better place for everyone (regardless of race, gender, ability, or creed) afterwards. Stay safe and healthy, and let’s keep moving forward.