Civic Engagement Doesn’t End After an Election
Congratulations! You made it through another controversial political cycle. But the problems facing America—and the world at large—won’t ever be solved in a single election.
2020 has been a historic year for a multitude of reasons—most of them unpleasant. Being surrounded by so much tragedy can make us feel powerless, but we have a choice amidst all the trouble: either let our inner pain consume us or channel our hurt into changing things for the better.
Here are a few ways you can take back your sense of control by making a positive difference when the world needs it most.
Stretch Your Donation Dollars Further
Donating to causes or charities you believe in is one of the best ways to make a tangible difference—especially if you’re still quarantining and can’t do volunteer work in person.
But before you send any money, make sure you look for any and all opportunities to have your donations matched. This could be through your employer, a national fundraising drive, Twitch streamers, or even friends and acquaintances offering their own matches via social media.
Support Mental Health for Yourself and Others
Taking care of those around you is critical during moments of turmoil. But before you can properly take care of others, you must first take care of yourself.
There are plenty of online mental health services available to get the help you need from the comfort of your own home. Also consider checking into meditation; over time, it can greatly boost the control you have over your emotions.
Once your own mental well-being is in a (relatively) good place, start reaching out to others who need help too. Asking about someone’s life and empathetically listening to their problems can make a much bigger impact than you realize.
Make Local the Focal
Trying to process the global scale of humanity’s issues naturally feels overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to recognize your biggest influence is over your own community.
Reach out to professional groups, nearby universities, and local organizers to find ways to contribute to a cause you’re passionate about. This can include things like peacefully protesting, running errands for neighbors who are at higher risk of COVID-19 complications, donating necessities like food or clothes to people who are now out of work, and many other activities.
Participate in the Process
It has been another contentious election year. But even though we all need a nice mental break from politics, the next midterm election is only 24 short months away. And while national races get most of the attention, the politicians who typically have the most control over your life are the ones running for local positions.
Register to vote, do your research, and even consider volunteering for a local candidate you believe in. Successful campaigns require sowing a lot of seeds early, so even though 2022 might feel like it’s a long way off, candidates—particularly local ones without many resources—can use as much early help as they can get.
Hope Springs Eternal
There are a lot of problems in the world, but they’ll only be solved when we the people take action. Don’t let apathy be the enemy of progress or perfection the enemy of good.
As anthropologist Margaret Meade once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”