By: Alyssa Gagnon, Regular Contributor
The midterm elections are coming up quick. And I think that means that it’s time to remind myself that my tiny little decisions do matter—they do create a ripple effect far beyond my reach.
Midterms aren’t something I’ve ever paid much attention to, and I’m willing to bet that I am not alone here. I’ve viewed them with the attitude that “I’ll vote when it counts” (read: I’ll vote for the “real” election).
Allow me to use a metaphor we can all understand to explain to myself how wrong this thinking is. This is like blowing off a course midterm test thinking that if you just show up to the final, you’ll be fine. And you may, in fact, be fine. You may do well enough on the final that you still pass your course. You may have a professor who doesn’t place much weight on the midterm. However, you may also cripple yourself and ruin your chances at a passing grade by foregoing that midterm test.
So it is with the midterm elections. These elections decide a) who gets to make non-presidential decisions (ie: almost all of them), or b) who we will get to choose from come the full-term election. So while I often tell myself that the midterm isn’t as important an election, I am dead wrong.
It’s easy to become disillusioned as part of a system that at times, seems not to work at all, and I fall victim to that way of thinking sometimes. The system, however flawed, for making decisions in this country works only when we use our voices. If we don’t speak for ourselves, we are allowing everyone else to speak for us. This is not a comforting thought.
So back to the metaphor: If we don’t vote and we allow others to speak for us, those other people may very well say what we want them to say. But what if they don’t? What if, come “real” election time, you are left with table scraps? With a b-team to choose from? What if it’s too late to make a meaningful choice?
If we stop insisting that our small decisions actually do have an impact, nothing will change. Think—if the world collectively decided “nothing I do will make a difference. I am just so small!” what consequences would occur? Our tiny voices do matter, for many tiny voices are truly powerful.
So I urge you to vote in any election available to you! I urge you to buy clothing and food from companies with ethical, responsible business practices! I urge you to choose a healthy breakfast or water over a soft drink!
Each decision exists in its own moment, but each decision is also part of a much larger picture, which eventually makes up your personal reality. Your decisions—your voice—matters, and will have effects, reaching, in ways that you cannot know or measure.
How involved are you in politics? What can you do to change that? Consider getting involved in your local, town elections. Make your voice heard in any way you can; being a part of the political process is a privilege, don't waste it!
Alyssa grew up on a diet of grilled cheese, books, and ice cream with books predominating. She recently graduated with a Master’s degree in English and lives in her favorite place with her favorite husband (she only has one). Post-graduation, her plans are to start a new women’s magazine that leaves women feeling GREAT about who they are, and to open a publishing house for untapped talent.
image via galeryhip.com