I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of feeling cynical and helpless. I am by nature an optimist, and I want to know how to actually make a difference. I believe in the possibility of change, so I focus on the ways in which I can have an impact. It’s empowering to figure out what I can do, even if it is only a little, to affect the issues that are important to me.
You can probably relate. The issues we’re facing in our communities, our societies and as a planet are impossible to ignore. What might surprise you is something else I care about, and which I believe is key to the impact all of us can have on the change we want to see in the world:
Now before you click to another page, here’s another thing you might find surprising – so do you.
‘Oh no I don’t…’
‘Oh yes you do…’
‘Oh no I don’t…’
Sorry, wrong blog, we’re past the Christmas Panto season right? Although given the way that much of our politics is conducted, sometimes pantomime seems apt…
Why you care about politics (even if you think you don’t)
Anyway, back to the point: why do I insist that you care about politics?
Well, here’s a list of issues which almost certainly affect your life in one way or another. I am prepared to bet rather a lot of money you care about at least one of them:
- How much tax you pay
- How much money you are paid
- How much you receive in benefits
- What your children learn at school
- How qualified the teachers are that teach them
- How long the school holidays are
- What access you have to childcare, and who pays for it
- How many hours you work
- How much holiday you can take from work
- Your access to healthcare if you’re too sick to work
- Your access to sexual health services
- What age you can get married
- Whether you can get married or not
- Whether or not we, as a country, go to war
- When your rubbish is collected
- Whether that new development near your house gets planning permission
- The amount of renewable energy we produce as a nation
- Climate change
- Plastics in the ocean
- GMO food
- Nuclear weapons…
Is there something on this list that you care about?
Then you care about politics.
Because every single item on that list is determined — or at least heavily influenced — by politicians at a local, national or international level.
Elections, referendums, protests – these are all huge political moments in our lifetimes. But the opportunities for usto have an impact on these big, important decisions aren’t limited to these snapshots in time.
Whether you agree with the outcomes or not, if you want to actually make a difference, you have a choice. You can wait for the next moment to come along – another election, another referendum, another protest…
OR you can get informed, get engaged, get empowered and actually make a difference more regularly than once every few years.
An optimist’s take on creating change
I may have mentioned that I am an optimist?
Here’s what I imagine…
…a world in which we do more than turn up once every few years, mark a cross on a piece of paper, and then moan to our friends about how our politicians don’t represent us.
…a world in which the electorate (which means YOU) feels informed, engaged and empowered to have an impact on the issues they care about.
…a world in which we hold our representatives accountable for the actions they take and the decisions they make.
That’s the world I want to live in and the one I want to do something to contribute to.
Because of that list of issues that you care about.
Because politics is important beyond the moments.
Because I don’t want to feel helpless and hopeless.
Because I want to feel informed, empowered and engaged.
And I suspect maybe you do too.
How to actually make a difference: 3 myths about getting involved
Lots of the myths you might have unconsciously absorbed about becoming ‘politically involved’ simply aren’t true. Here are 3 that commonly stop us from taking action, and the truth behind them.
Myth #1 Getting involved in politics will take up all my time
Something as simple as getting informed about an issue you care about; finding out what organisations are working to improve it or signing a petition might only take a few minutes. Do that every day or week, and you’ll soon be more engaged with what’s going on.
Myth #2 If I want to make a difference, I’ll have to join a party or start a campaign
There are lots of groups, individuals and organizations already doing amazing work on all kinds of issues. So you don’t need to start from scratch. Whether it’s making a donation, sharing their work with your network, or contributing your time and skills, there are ways to get involved at every level.
Myth #3: I need to spend years studying politics before I get started
Politics isn’t for the elite, the wealthy or the educated. It’s for all of us. And starting with grassroots issues that matter to you — a local footpath, a library you love, a policy at work you don’t agree with — is the best way to learn more.
We deserve more
The philosopher and diplomat Joseph de Maistre once said that “In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve.”
Isn’t it time for us to deserve better leaders?
Isn’t it time we stepped up? Spoke out? Held our leaders to account?
Isn’t it time we got involved? Made a difference? Had a say?
Then perhaps when the next political moment rolls around, we will have gone some way to creating that world I imagine.
I’ll be sharing more ways you can get involved and have an impact on future blogs.
For now, I’m curious: What’s your relationship with politics like? Do you feel as though you’re engaged with the issues that matter; does it all feel like a distant circus of posturing egos; do you feel empowered, helpless, or somewhere in between?
I’d really love to know — share your take in the comments below.
The Knitting, Baby-whispering Karaoke queen!
Sara is the Founder of Actually – an organisation that exists to empower people who want to make a difference in the world by helping them to develop the right mindset, skills and support to have an impact. She is also a One of many coach and trainer; a mentor with the social enterprise support group Unltd and the co-Founder of one of London’s leading communications agencies (Pagefield). Oh…and she’s currently authoring a book entitled ‘How to Actually Change the World’.
In these challenging times, Sara is running a series of FREE Masterclasses to help purpose led entrepreneurs and others to survive and thrive. If you’d like to access the recording of her first Masterclass ‘Thriving in a Time of Chaos’ and be kept in the loop about future workshops and classes, please click here: www.actually.world/masterclass-thriving or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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