Once upon a time, there was a class taught in all schools called “Civics Class.” It taught people how to get involved in their government, and how to participate in Democracy.
In my civics class, we did a lot of cool things:
We sat in on city council meetings so we could see how local government worked.
We held a mock election.
We picked up trash and learned about stewardship in our communities.
And, all of us wrote a letter to the White House about something that mattered to us.
This was around the time of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, so a lot of us wrote very sad letters about otters covered in oil, slowly dying from the poison.
In my civics class, I learned that as a tax-paying citizen of the United States, I had both rights and responsibilities.
I want to talk about those:
First, our rights:
Obviously we have the bill of rights, which we all need to remember because it’s being broken constantly.
However, we have more than that. We have the right to vote. And we all need to do that, because that is the only way that we can make our wishes known to our government. They want you to believe that voting doesn’t matter, but it does.
Get involved in your government! Find out what judges are racist and what local politicians are corrupt. Speak out against them. Write to them.
If your problem is specific to an issue like Monstanto crops designed to work with Roundup (and kill bees) then find out who regulates those crops and write to them.
(Hint: It’s the FDA and the EPA and they are both tax-payer funded so you pay their salaries.)
Write to the regulatory agencies who are not doing their jobs. Tell them how you feel. Write to the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management about our need to protect our National Parks and our environment.
Get involved in making sure that these agencies are doing their jobs.
Now let’s talk about responsibilities:
We all have a responsibility to work together to create a society that we are proud to live in.
This is something you need to become conscious of.
If a person tells you that taxes are bad, explain to them that taxes pay for schools and roads. We need them. However, we also have a responsibility to make sure that the government spends those tax dollars how we want.
If someone says voting doesn’t matter, remind them that only about half of Americans vote, and that is why we are in this mess to begin with. If more people were involved, they wouldn’t be able to deny us.
Look at the tribes massing in protest of the Dakota Pipeline. They are being noticed and being heard. They are making a difference. And all of us should be doing the same.
It is your civic duty to participate in your government, and to speak out against things that you see that are wrong. This is our collective social contract, and we need to take it seriously.
So let’s all do the exercise I did in Civics Class right now.
1. Go buy envelopes.
2. Go buy stamps.
3. Write a letter about the thing that matters most to you.
4. Send it to this address:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington DC 20500
Do this right now. Seriously. It’s a good first step to getting involved, and it will make you feel really good inside, I promise.
Next, go to this website and put in your address so you can find out what politicians represent you. Call their office and ask to talk to them. Write an e-mail. Send a letter. Tell them what is on your mind. It is their job to listen to you, and you can’t ever let them forget it.
Let’s be louder than any lobbyist ever could be!