I am writing this column late in the evening on Election Day. I can’t sleep or quit watching the election results. I am not sure why, but watching the results coming in on Election Day is one of those things I can’t get enough of. I am equally as sure that the first thing I will do in the morning will be to fire up my computer and turn the news on for even more results. Call me a glutton for punishment.
While I was watching the results it occurred to me that many of us will be very disappointed with the results of this election. Now, don’t read too much into that statement, I am not talking about any one race but the collection of all local and national. Our wonderful democracy serves us very well but leaves almost as many disappointed voters in every race as it does happy victors.
It is easy to get discouraged when a candidate you supported does not win. The dawn on the day after the election can be pretty gloomy if your side did not win. But in a day or two, maybe a month, you will realize that the sun will continue to come up and our great nation will continue to lead the world. However, what you do in a time of disappointment defines your character.
I am always reminded of something my parents burned into my brain. If you don’t like the way something is done, work to change it. It does no one any good to sit around and complain about the way things are going. If you don’t like the people in charge, roll up your sleeves and get involved.
This advice goes for everything from civic clubs, churches, school boards, and city councils to congressional seats and even the President. If you don’t like the direction we are going in, work to change that direction. One of the essential rights we all have in this great nation is the right to help determine our government. That is a right that many of us have become apathetic to and chosen not to exercise. It is also one of our most important rights.
OK, so I am asking you to get involved, but let me also give you a whisper of caution. Please become informed before you become involved. I tell you this as someone who was at the mercy of elected officials for many years. It is easy to run on a platform of reform and change, but it is much harder to implement said change and reform. You may find out that the way things are done really is the best way. That is why you should be informed first, understand the issues, and then formulate the plan.
Having said that, I believe that everything, every system, and every budget should be reviewed every year and nothing should ever be static. New input, fresh ideas and a different perspective are always a good thing. That is why more of us should become involved in our governance at some level. This nation was designed to be governed at a grass roots level. That is something I think we are getting away from.
Each of us should take pride in the community around us and we should want to make it better. Many of us have become too apathetic and too wrapped up in our daily lives to get involved. We need to take back that control and get involved. Maybe you think getting involved is too hard; you might be surprised at how easy it is. Offer to help out at the most basic level; PTA, a committee at church, your homeowners group, the local farm organization, Extension Council, the opportunities are endless and easy to find. All you have to do is make yourself available.
So if you are disappointed by this election, the good news is that you have time to work on a solution. It’s time we all get involved in our communities, counties, state and nation. We are incredibly blessed to live in the greatest nation in the world with all of the freedoms and rights we enjoy. However, all of this does not come without a cost and that cost is our involvement.
So I challenge each of us (myself included) to roll up our sleeves and get to work on a little “community improvement”. If we each become involved in our own little corner and strive to make it better, I think we will be shocked at the differences we will see. Now just like I said, the sun will come up tomorrow but if I don’t turn off the computer that dawn will be too soon.