No wonder my blood pressure is on the rise! Ebola, ISIS, health care crisis, Congress run amok, war, lame duck (getting lamer all the time)…and no immigration reform or budget balancing in sight. What's a concerned citizen to do?
Well, one thing we should not do (though the prospect sorely tempts me at times) is throw up our hands in dismay and surrender to the prevailing tide. As Americans, we still have a voice, and we need to use it. With elections in sight, we should speak our minds by voting our conscience. This means knowing enough about the candidates and issues to ensure that we have a conscience to vote! Knee-jerk voting along party lines can no longer suffice; we must analyze each person and proposition closely in order to make the best possible judgments––informed judgments, and not just informed by a biased news station or celebrity, but by our own research. When no candidate or proposal satisfies, we can identify and support the lesser of two evils, using the next two or four years to keep track of how frequently he or she represents us well and how frequently we are let down. If we are let down too often, we react by letting our representatives down when the next election rolls around.
Of course, it's not ideal when the field of candidates makes us want to run full speed in the other direction. Election reform is definitely called for, reform that makes it possible for people to be elected to public office without having to sell their souls to the highest bidder or pretend to be someone they're not in order to get financing. Some civility in campaigning would be nice too, so that decent and relatively "normal" people might actually be willing to step up to the plate and lend us their talents. Equally appealing, what if opponents quit trying to label and villainize each other (because we, the citizens, refused to be distracted by that) and focused on the issues at hand? What if we did the same?
Enough said. I know there's no magic bullet; there rarely is. But I also know that hard times are probably here to stay. If we don't rise to the challenge, we will keep falling––and failing to live up to our legacy as a nation. We are better than this. We have to be. So when we ask ourselves "What's wrong with the world?", let's make sure we are more of the solution and less of the problem. And let's remind ourselves that it all begins with one person…You. Me. (us)