People who know me or who follow my blog know that I am a political junkie. Many of the television shows I watch are about politics, I take time on the weekend to read the Los Angeles Times, and I follow current events online throughout the week. Any chance I get, I will talk with friends or family about what’s going on in the world.
There is so much to learn and so much going on! The media provides such an onslaught of information that you can never keep up – but you can try. I wasn’t always a follower of politics and current events. After I finished graduate school at age 29, I had a little more time on my hands. With that time, I found myself drawn to what’s going on out there in the world, beyond the confines of a classroom or my dissertation.
I know that many of you are besieged with so many responsibilities that taking time to read the newspaper or to follow political blogs or websites seems like an absolute luxury. However, whenever you have the chance, ask yourself how aware you are of current events and how much time you devote each week to following them. Barack Obama has inspired millions in recent history to become more aware of their environment and to get engaged in the political process, and we can use him as a reminder for what we need to do ourselves.
Do you vote? If so, do you vote in all elections or just in some? Many people will vote for President but won’t vote for judges or councilmen and women because they don’t know anything about them. Don’t get down on yourself if you’re not voting across the board, but do demand of yourself that you vote for something in every election. You are a valuable contributor to society and you can help shape the way things are done in this country.
In the recent past, we’ve also witnessed celebrity activism in far reaches of the world – and I’m in complete support of this. I’d rather have Angelina Jolie’s trip to Africa teach me the name of an unfamiliar African city than hear about where she bought her latest house with Brad Pitt. However, celebrities aren’t the only ones who have the power to get involved and to make an impact.
In my clinical practice, one of the things I am always asking my clients to do is to evaluate all of the departments of their lives and ask themselves if they are truly fulfilled. Everyone struggles with loneliness to some degree, and some adults must carry the burden of having had difficult childhoods. Regarding such clients, I ask them whether they’ve ever considered being a mentor to a child through a social service program, or getting involved with one of the countless Boys and Girls Clubs. The reality is that there are many ways one can be political and get involved in their community.
Community involvement is no more important than engagement in the political process in the larger country and world. Reading about what’s going on is critical – you need to be involved either mentally or physically in the political process to grow and to make the world a better place. The steps are simple – one is learning what’s going on, and the second is figuring out what behaviors you can engage in to try to make the kind of changes you’d like to see. Finally, vote, vote, vote!