When Voting Is Not Enough
By Kathy Custren
Ah, the power of our voting voice! While I am not a huge fan of 'politics' for the distracting circus it can be, I do very much admire the democratic process of voting. Everyone may have an opinion, so it takes a bit of mindful effort to make a choice and express our conscience by voting.
Voting as Our Civic Duty
A good number of us who live in democratic societies still see the benefit of participating in the civic duty of voting. In the U.S., the eager among us cannot wait to register when we reach the voting age of 18. In fact, we may wonder about those who decide not to join in the fun.
More people truly equate voting with our voice, of having the opportunity to sway our much larger fate, and the endorsement of the populace being heard. United, we have the chance to help choose more than a political winner or victory. We have what many with a more global or cosmic view may perceive as a golden opportunity to alter the course of history.
Often, though, voting is not enough. We may get caught up in the campaign itself, and volunteering time is always a great show of support. Pounding the pavement, handing out pamphlets, getting neighbors to sign petitions, calling potential voters, messaging friends, and reminding people to get the polls are all noteworthy ways to lend a hand in support of a candidate or cause.
Voting and Money
However, many people also choose to use money as a 'stand-in' for physical support instead. Giving funds to a campaign 'can' be a sign to the candidate or to a certain political cause that it carries the backing of the people.
It is very unfortunate, though, to see almost every cause or campaign come to the email inbox with a plea for money attached to it. “Just three more dollars” would be great, they say. “Five dollars could see us winning this,” they proclaim. One has to wonder just how much of the campaign is based on action, and how much is based on greed. What happens to all the money they do take in this way?
We may also recognize that others, who may have their own, greedy interest in swaying the vote, are just as likely to 'vote with their pocketbook' rather than their conscience. Where does that equate with the money we donate to our favorite political party or cause? What makes our money any cleaner or dirtier than that used by a lobbyist?
When we think about the lobbyists, who may use any number of ways to influence a particular vote on an issue or for an influential post, the issue of 'greed in government' comes to the forefront when it comes to voting and money. Lost is the original idea that politics is a service-oriented privilege. Also lost is the underlying power that the 'every person' has true say in what happens with the government entities that are charged with representing us or the interests of the 'greater good.'
For many on the fence about voting, the lack of true, service-oriented political superstars may be what keeps them from adding their voice.
Voting In Times of Strife
Voting today and making one's voice heard goes beyond any one country's political process, however. Consider the outcry over the Syrian refugees, who are very much forcing a large number of countries to take a long, hard look at what it means to be humane. In these days of austerity and fear-mongering over the cost of 'aliens' invading a country's borders, we have these common brothers and sisters from Syria who are in dire straits and require immediate, humanitarian help from all sides.
After thinking not very long ago that we have been fortunate to not have a major migration of people in such a very long time, along come the Syrians to prove us wrong. They challenge our very level of humanity, seeing the dead bodies washing up on shore as testament to their struggle. And what is the first excuse that comes to mind? How much it will “cost” the poor, neighboring countries to welcome them.
Even with the outcry and willingness of the people in a number of countries, the monetary “how” remains a stumbling block, and it ought not to be. This crisis can be added to the other disaster-type problems we have had in recent years, requiring large amounts of basic, humanitarian aid. We find the lack of immediate action intolerable, so the petitions, and our voting, begins.
We have technology to target and annihilate a specific person-of-interest with immediate accuracy of a drone strike. The 'superpowers' can manage to move tons of military equipment in a moment's notice to some far-flung corner of the globe, but one country's struggle remains 'impossible' or 'unknown?' Who gives a fig about 'cost' when so many lives are on the line?
Voting and Technology
With our current technologies, however, many of us also question the process that 'official' voting must take place at specific polling places, or that citizens may be required to get special absentee ballots. It seems that many of us can feel stymied when faced with the conundrum of 'easy, modern, instant technology' designed to save us time, money, and effort, and the old-fashioned means by which we make our voices heard. If we can vote for the latest 'American Idol' or who ought to win 'Big Brother,' from the warmth and comfort of our living room, and lend our voice to a petition on the Internet from almost anywhere on the planet, then our use of technology when it comes to voting are seriously out of balance.
Voting is Not Enough
As push comes to shove, which many things usually do, when it comes to voting, making our voice heard really does not have to rely on polling places and technology. Voting is just a nicer, more civilized way of expressing our choice and of hopefully being heard by others. If we do not participate in voting as part of the established system, there will undoubtedly come a time when we feel that actions speak louder than words. It will not take money, either, to force the necessary action needed to make change happen.
All around the globe, we see large numbers of people showing up in protest on the streets to make their voices heard. When the voices of the people must be expressed, regardless of voting 'opportunities,' the energy will come out in action. And when the dust settles, we will want voting again.
Kathy Custren, OMTimes Senior Editor, is a mother of four, who strives for balance and has a deep respect for All. Interests include education, elements, nature, humanity's cosmic origins, philosophy, spirituality, and wellness. Connect with her community page "Consciousness Live" on Facebook, and tune in to “What is Going OM?” on OMTimes Radio.