Creating change requires more than just your vote

Justin Marinelli
Senior Writer

I am rather skeptical about the ability of politics to actually solve the problems facing us today. Sure, we’ve spent the last two years convincing ourselves that our candidate was the solution to our problems, and that the other guy would bring fire and brimstone down upon us. But you know what really fixes the problems of society? People who are fed up and tired of the way things are going who actually get up off the couch and do something, not our elected leaders.

Let’s start off by slaughtering a sacred cow. Your vote is not important. It really isn’t. Your one-in-200-million say in how this country is run counts for essentially nothing. If you’re going to enact change in our society, voting isn’t the way to go about it. You need to actually take it upon yourself to get out there and take action to make the world a better place.

Suppose you are of a more liberal persuasion, and you feel that our society should strive to do more to take care of the poor. Is it going to make more of a difference to vote for a candidate who will increase funding to welfare programs or to volunteer at soup kitchens yourself and give to charity regularly? Which will really have the most impact?

Or perhaps you possess a more conservative leaning and you feel that we should have a large military so you can feel secure. Is it more effective to use your minuscule say in how this country is run or will you feel safer if you learn martial arts and/or how to use firearms? Once again, greater results come from taking personal responsibility, not assuming that politicians will solve your problems for you.

It’s rather unimpressive how so many people sit around waiting for change, then get annoyed when the gridlock of our political system fails to provide it. We have the power within us to enact change in the world around us, but we never exercise it. Sure, it takes more effort to start a charity, join the Peace Corps or be a part of the neighborhood watch than to submit a ballot, but it yields more potent results.

When I look at the world, the people and organizations I see making a difference aren’t elected. Instead, I see the American Red Cross, Alcoholics Anonymous, researchers searching for new technologies that will benefit humanity and countless other volunteer organizations, NGOs and compassionate, driven people. These are the people who really make a difference.

Yes, it’s true that there are some things that can only be decided by the government (legality of gay marriage, tax policy, etc.). For issues like these, voting makes sense, but only if you can rally large numbers of people to support your cause. The onus is still on you to go out and win hearts and minds and try to change the popular attitude to suit your views (or even to run for office yourself, if you feel this is the best way to change things).

So call me a heretic and burn me at the stake, but if you didn’t vote, I don’t have a problem with that. If you did vote, awesome. Thanks for taking a little initiative to make the world a better place. But whether you did or you didn’t, the question to ask yourself now is: what can I do that will actually change not only my life, but the lives of the people around me for the better?

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