Making changes locally

Tuesday my home state of Pennsylvania held their primary elections.  Since I am not a Democrat nor a Republican I can not vote in a primary in this state.  And that’s okay with me this year. I  have decided I will not vote this year at all.  This was a hard decision and one I am not taking lightly.

Richard Armour said, “Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong”

In the past I have done my research diligently,  and still been disappointed with the outcome of the elections.   We get angry at the politics and vote to remove an entire group of them, replacing them with ones who speak to our concerns.  Once in they do no better than the group that was ousted.

The number of hours I have spent in my life trying to dig past the negative advertising and smear campaigns to find the truth about the various candidates only to learn they owe more to the lobbyists than they do to me, is more than I feel I should have had to spend.

Abraham  Lincoln reminded Americans in his Gettysburg Address that democracy is  “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” He meant that our government was here to serve us, the average, everyday American citizen. This is used as an argument on the importance of voting.  I was taught that by voting we expressed what we wanted our representatives to do for us.  When was the last time you felt your government acted on your behalf and in your best interests?

“Hell, I never vote for anybody, I always vote against” W.C. Fields

I have weighed this decision with the knowledge that our ancestors fought for the right for all 18 or over to have this right.  I also know many countries are fighting for their rights to be heard in their political processes.  But with freedom also comes the right to choose whether or not to participate.

I have considered changing the way I vote to vote only in local or state elections, it is argued that local versus national elections have a more direct impact on our lives.  But I have to say this hasn’t been my experience as a whole.

Living with integrity

In the last year I have made so many changes to my life and have seen such positive results that I am beginning to believe that the effort I put into voting over the years has done so little in comparison.  Since I have decided to live a simpler, smaller lifestyle it only makes sense to me to want to create change by setting an example, (no preaching here)  and watch my small little corner of the world change with me instead of worrying about the national problems right now.

In the past year my life changes have been noticed by others around me. I was discouraged for a while when those close to me couldn’t or wouldn’t accept this was how I wanted to live my life.  Recently,   I have begun to see them adopting a few of the things that I have  done.  For instance:

  • Using a library as my main source of books and magazines has saved me hundreds of dollars in the past year.  Several families have now made the change to using the library to find their reading material and movies.
  • Clearing a field behind my home has gotten the neighbors out of their apartments to enjoy the outdoors and get to know each other.   We are working as a community to make the area fulfill all our needs.
  • One neighbor who has been very lonely and in poor health has now been coming outside with his guitar, as a result he’s no longer so lonely and  has people who care and understand his struggles  looking out for his health.  Just last week I received a text that the ambulance was at his place, my checking in with him boosted his spirits as he recovered. We all need to know others care for us.
  • By explaining why I got rid of my TV,(so many times it amazes me) others are doing similar.  Personally I now know more than ten families who have  eliminated their televisions (or gotten rid of all but one in their home)  and more that have  cut the cable. No television has meant I’ve missed all the negative political ads!
  • Others are asking me for greener ideas for cleaning and personal hygiene products  are happy with the results and the extra money they now have as a result.
  • Shopping locally I have been keeping my money in my community and am now seeing others do the same, the result is more small businesses popping up in previously abandoned store fronts.
  • Shopping at thrift and consignment stores I regularly find amazing deals, this past fall I found an Angora Sweater in perfect condition for $2.00.  Seeing this others around me are now using these same stores first when needing “new” clothes.

Who really cares what I do

Why have people been watching what I am doing?  Yes, first they thought I was crazy to downsize so much.  But as time has passed and they see that I am happier than I have been in a long time with  more time for what I really want it has made them reconsider their initial reaction to my move.  When people see you are happy they want to know why, they want to feel what you feel.

It is believed that without a voice in the political process we can never really make real change.  I wonder, can that be true?  When I try to think of one person I voted for, or against for that matter, did I get what I was looking for?  I couldn’t count the  number of promises  I counted on politicians keeping but were broken soon after.   I tend to believe that what our country needs is both the voter and the non-voter who works to make changes in their local community.   I have decided to be the latter.

Will you vote this year?  Do you believe it will make a difference this time?  I would love to hear your views on why voting or not voting is important to you.

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