So, You Voted: What Next?

Electoral politics, unfortunately, dictates a lot of unpleasant aspects of our lives. Sometimes it feels like a lose-lose situation where each outcome leads to an endless cycle of oppression that people struggle to get out of. There’s hope, and then there’s “Jeez, I hope we don’t go through the last four years again.”

After the 2016 election, I felt pretty hopeless. It was like watching the beginning of a storm brew, knowing it was coming, but having no control over where it was headed. It was then that I sort of realized the importance of community — the realization that only we can take care of one another. Four years and a new election later, and I realize nothing really changed. I’m older and it’s harder to look at things with rose-colored glasses now and then. Differentiating between the bad guys and the good guys seems to get harder and harder. But there was still that nudge, that aspect of community and what it’s supposed to mean. 

It just made me realize how much we have to stop thinking that voting is the end-all of our politics. Don't get me wrong, voting is important — I voted both in the primaries and the actual election! There are a lot of voting discrepancies we have to address, though: voter suppression, voting rights for felons, statehood, and so much more. All of these things should be held to an important standard for democracy, and it’s discouraging to see someone emphasize the need to vote thinking that's all that needs to be done.

Unsplash

So you might be wondering, what can you do? Well, there are almost too many things. Donate monthly to your local bail fund! The incarceration rates are increasing every year at alarming rates. Find something you’re passionate about and volunteer! Look into programs that help disenfranchised groups. Maybe you can make a meal monthly and donate it to a local shelter. Maybe you can work directly with community leaders weekly. Look into your community activist groups and learn about their work! You’d be surprised with the kind of help they might need, from delivering food to donation collections. Don't just repost a black square on Instagram and call it activism. I promise there are way more productive things you can do.

The truth is, there is a lot of need in the world. There are a lot of people that need even just a hand. And I know what you're thinking, "Some of us have jobs! Some of us don't have the time and resources to help!" which is perfectly understandable! But every great change starts at home. Every movement, every revolution, every act of kindness starts with the way you treat those in your inner circle and how much you're willing to let go of. It's about having those uncomfortable discussions, and it's also about helping your neighbors when they're in need. There’s no “going back to normal.” There’s only choosing to face reality or going back to pretending it doesn’t exist. 

It shouldn’t be just about voting anymore. It should be about caring for your neighbors. It should be about genuine care for other people, those in your own community and onward. There's a lot in this world that's ugly and cruel, but in-between the rubbles of injustice and hate is kindness, and most importantly, humanity. Look for them. Fight for them.

Become them.