Voting is not the Only Tool in Your Civic Arsenal

Keep the Momentum Going!

If the trend continues, it looks like this coming November will have some of the highest voter turnout in American history.

This is a massive testimony to the power of social media and younger people taking ownership of their civic duty to make their voice heard for what they want this country’s future to look like.

I am very excited about all of the opportunities for younger voters, for ease of access to ballots, and what the future holds on both a national and state level.

However, by this point, I think we have all been entirely overrun by reminders to register to vote and of the importance of voting.

While voting is extremely important, and it is a right that we as Americans should not waste, I want to discuss additional avenues of being a good citizen on top of your vote.

Election season is rife with contention and conflict between friends and family because we have a significant turning point ahead of us as a nation.

Still, if we think that our vote is the only tool we have to make a difference, then we are missing out on tons of opportunities to make an impact both locally and globally.

My Framework

A requirement for achieving my Eagle Scout award was to obtain three citizenship merit badges: citizenship in the community, citizenship in the nation, and citizenship in the world.

I think this is a very beneficial and comprehensive requirement to be awarded the Eagle Scout rank because you were forced to plug into each of those spheres and get directly involved at each level.

I’m going to discuss some of the ways you can get involved in your community, the nation, and the world in addition to voting because I think that all of the buzz and energy around election time seems to fade after the election.

If you can keep that Spirit alive of making a difference and getting involved, then you will certainly create an impact.

Community

Your community is where you probably spend most of your time.

Unfortunately, most people are so caught up with national and global news that they can ignore their most significant sphere of influence: their local community.

It makes sense because plugging into your community may not be as sexy is fighting over who the president should be or if you need to change your Senator or if a representative has abused his or her power and needs to be replaced.

But your community is where your income is probably coming from, where your friends are, and where your long-term well-being is going to reside, so it is certainly worth your time and attention.

One of the biggest benefits of modern technology is the ability to attend meetings, make your voice heard via social media, and participate in local events far more efficiently than ever before.

Getting involved in your community might sound cliche, but simply going to the farmers market to meet local vendors can open your eyes to your local economy and some fantastic new people.

On top of the farmers market, you can also go to Town Council meetings and learn about zoning changes in your area or the use of funds or new community centers, and incentives for new business owners.

The coolest part is that if you don’t like any of those things or you are very passionate about one of those projects, you can become directly involved by either joining a committee, volunteering for a foundation, or posting on your social media.

When you post about a local restaurant or speak up against detrimental initiatives in your area, people will see it, and people will hear it.

For example, I own a local business, and my participation in the Chamber of Commerce and spending my money at local restaurants makes a difference because it is a direct investment in my city.

It may not seem like much, but when you post a happy hour special on your Instagram of a local restaurant and repost it, their customer base might grow because of that, so don’t ignore your ability to make a difference in your community.

Nation

While your vote for president and National Legislators might seem like the most obvious way to be a good citizen of your nation, there are many other avenues you can take to get involved.

Did you know that if you go to Washington DC, you have the right to an audience with your senators and representatives?

It’s true.

After all, they are on Capitol Hill to represent you.

One of my Senators went to my university, so whenever I have a chance to go to DC, I try to make a point of visiting his office if he is taking hours there. The couple of times that I have met him, we chatted about alumni activities as well as current policy.

Once the quarantine is over, I highly recommend visiting your representatives and Senators if you are ever in Washington DC.

Your state capital and state legislators are also available for you to meet. You are their constituents so take advantage of your ability to speak with them and make your voice heard.

World

So how do you be a good global citizen?

In my perspective, an ounce of research goes a long way in other cultures.

I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to travel all over the world and work with people on many different continents.

This might sound silly, but one of the most significant ways to connect with somebody from a different country is at the table over a meal.

Willingness to try new foods and culinary experiences that you might find “weird” teaches you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

America certainly is a Melting Pot, but it doesn’t compare to immersing yourself in another country.

If that’s not an option, look for ethnic restaurants in your area, try something new, and if you haven’t tried something before because you were afraid of it, oh, just give it a shot and see what happens.

I lived in Vienna, Austria, for a while, and my roommate was from Vietnam. he and I connected the most over food because he taught me all about Pho and Vietnamese cuisine, and I taught him how to make pancakes and cheeseburgers.

Years later, he and I are still close friends, probably because of all of the meals that we made together.

From a political perspective, it’s essential to understand that the type of government we have in the United States is not the same type of government everywhere in the world — for good or for bad.

Take some time to understand how other countries operate before imposing your opinions on how it should be run on them.

What might work for you here in America might not be the case Elsewhere, and that understanding makes you a better global citizen.

Rounding it Out

Don’t let your Civic energy run out after this 2020 election.

Keep the momentum going get involved where you can, whether locally, at the state level, nationally, or even the Peace Corps if you want to make a global impact.

I love people, music, and optimizing financial health

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