A few days ago, I saw a reddish-brown sign notifying the public of an upcoming hearing. Immediately, the Solution “Be Politically Involved” flashed in my head and I knew what my next blog post would be about.
I took a picture of the sign and thought to myself, “I’ve never even been to any kind of political meeting… this should be interesting.” The meeting wasn’t taking place for another few days so that gave me plenty of time to imagine what it was going to be like. I created so many scenarios and visuals, they seemed to follow me in my dreams. I was excited.
Thinking about this hearing so much made me realize I had never been politically involved in any of the communities I’ve lived in … ever. I’m sure many things have happened that I didn’t play any part in because I was ignorant to it. It also made me realize how my life was being controlled. I didn’t have any say in the law, the rules, the events and I wasn’t even trying to. I was just going with whatever I was told. Something about that didn’t sit right with me at all. I decided I had to become more politically involved.
Finally, the day for the hearing came and my daughter and I headed down the street for the meeting. I was surprised that the meeting location was less than two minutes away from my home and I have passed it often. I’m so thankful to my neighbor for putting up those signs (thank you, Daniel!).
The hearing started at 6, we got there at 5:40 and a few people were present already. I still didn’t know what would happen, I just knew to expect a discussion about 3 town issues. A podium stood in the middle of the room, with a set of tables and chairs in front of it and a couple of chairs behind it for the audience. A table by the door held handouts on the issues and 3 sign-up sheets to speak. I took one of the handouts and read it over. Even though it was kind of boring, I didn’t let that get in the way of this new experience. From what I could gather, 3 topics would be discussed and decided on.
The first and most contentious discussion concerned a transitional home potentially coming to the town. People who spoke were residents of transitional homes in other cities, the director of the home, and residents of the targeted neighborhood. This meeting got interesting fast because the residents of the neighborhood did not welcome the home and made that clear. I’m sure the two deciding councilmen were moved by the residents’ emotions because it was not approved.
Although I didn’t agree with the concerns of the residents or the councilmens’ disapproval, observing the hearing allowed me to see how powerful my voice could be. That’s how involved I aim to be from here on out. The other two concerns were about an in-home daycare and reducing a rear setback in a yard. Neither issue had any controversy so both were approved.
Reading this chapter reminded me of how little I paid attention in history class when it came to the government and laws. It always seemed that anything government was something that was far out of my reach. I never thought that “little” me could have any kind of impact politically so I left it alone. I don’t remember that any emphasis was placed on getting involved so I didn’t.
Thinking back, I can’t remember being involved in any conversations regarding politics. Why? Well, I haven't been interested in talking about politics, and politics has always (to my ear) been presented in uninteresting ways. Maybe I always tune out. Have teachers and elected officials purposely made government boring to kids so we wouldn’t be interested in it when we became adults? I’ll take some time to collect my thoughts because this may be something I write about in the future.
The last section in this chapter is about becoming an elected official and closes with this:
“If you do this, please remain authentic and incorruptible.”
And I remembered a few months ago I overheard a conversation about town officials. What I heard concerned me. I took that as a sign that I needed to get involved with my community. If I had major concerns about this cute little town, imagine what could be happening across the state, the country, and the world. I must get involved.
The Action Ideas section prompted me to think about ways I could be more involved in my community. First, I should learn about the government, the law and what’s going on around me. This is easy because we have the internet. I can do the research on my own and make it fun.
What I learned about the world
So much is going on that I had no idea about, especially politics. I also understood how involved people could be if we knew of events and issues around us. Hearings like this happen all the time, but if my neighbor hadn’t posted that sign, I wouldn't have known about that hearing.
The world is ours for the taking and that’s the point. We have to take it if we want it. No one is going to hand it to us, especially if it’s in their hands already.
What I learned about myself
I learned that I might be interested in politics and government. It’s not as boring as I remembered it to be. I also learned that I have a say in what goes down.
Seeing how powerful these two older men were - by making the final decisions - made me a little itchy. The thought of me not having a say in what was going on in my community didn’t sit right with me. So, I will definitely be going to more of these meetings and anything else that involves my community.
From this day forward
I am going to be an active citizen of America. Even if I’m active only in my small town right now, that’s perfect. I will know that I am making an impact. I have to start saving the world somewhere, right? Every step counts and every vote matters. Three solutions down, 68 to go.