Tag Archives: Voting

Off the Computer and Into the Streets?


The past few months have been a time of questioning and feeling powerless.  It began when I read the story of 200 young girls in Nigeria who were kidnapped and held hostage.  A movement called #bringbackourgirls was started, and the internet exploded with people posting concerns, demanding action, and praying that the girls not be forgotten.  I quickly jumped on board.  I chose and committed to praying for not only all the girls, but for one young girl named Naomi.   I changed my profile picture on facebook to the logo for the movement.   I signed a petition  and tweeted about the girls.

Last week, I changed my profile picture back to my own picture.  As I did it,  sadness filled my heart knowing that we are approaching 100 days, and the girls are still being held captive.  Did all my efforts mean nothing?  Is it useless to try to effect change?   I hope not.  Yet, I wonder if it is enough.  Could I have done or do more? What would that look like?

I am thinking about the answer to questions like these as I take classes this summer.  In the first semester class, we watched  Half the Sky documentary about the lives of women and girls around the world who are abused, treated as slaves, sold as property, and mutilated.   We saw sex trafficking here in our own country, as well as around the world.   We discovered girls being denied access to education just because they are girls.  We also watched a documentary about the conditions of people  around the world living without proper sanitation or access to clean water.   We looked at poverty at home and globally.

This semester we are talking about social problems and solutions.  In one of our discussion posts, I wrote about the use of the internet and social media to effect change.  I know these movements bring issues to light and help unite people around a common cause, but are they enough?  My professor asked a difficult question, and I am trying to find an answer within myself.  She called using social media, etc.  “armchair activism”.   She asked “What do you think it might take to get people off the computer and into the streets?”.

It seems like a radical idea, doesn’t it?   Yet, isn’t that how change has taken place in our country since the beginning?  Please understand that I am not talking about violence or overthrowing the government, but I am talking about finding ways to have a voice that will make a difference.   Social media can have an impact; a study last year showed that people were more likely to vote if their friend’s post about voting.  Many people learn about politics and politicians on the internet.  Social media has been helpful in creating movements that do make a difference.

Take Molly Katchpole. She was 22, working two jobs, and struggling to make ends meet. When Bank of America announced a new $5/month banking fee, she thought it was unfair and decided to do something about it. She used Change.org to start a petition, shared the effort with her friends, and got 300,000 petition signatures, which pressured Bank of America to scrap plans to institute the fee.   http://techchange.org/2013/07/02/social-movements-and-social-media-spark-a-movement-change-the-world/

Let’s talk about voting.  Do you vote?  Do you know that America has one of the lowest percentages of voter turnout for countries that allow voting?  Among the 58% of people that did vote in the last election, how many actually took time to research and learn about those for whom they voted?    Do you know that according to the constitution the only requirements for running for the House of Representatives are being 25 years old, have been a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and live in the state they represent?  Of course, I understand that  you need to find backers with money, etc. in order to win.  Or do you?

I am asking questions because I want to do something.  I work in a field where I  talk with  so many people who are facing issues that are far too common in our country.   I look at statistics about our county or read stories in news, and  I hear people say, “That is so sad or so horrible. Why doesn’t someone do something?”  It reminds me of a couple of quotes that seem appropriate right now.

I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.”    Lily Tomlin

“Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it.” “Well, why don’t you ask Him?” “Because I’m afraid He would ask me the same question.”   (Anonymous) -a quote from A Hole in the Gospel, by Richard Stearn, President of World Vision.

Do think it is important to do something about things going on in our world?  A student in my class said that he believed people either feel helpless or just don’t care.- Do you  feel helpless?   What do you think you can do to effect change?




Voting Blog-Not What You Think


I am not going to tell my political affiliation or voting preferences. I am not going to discuss the candidates or the issues.  We have had months of hearing about every point of view on every subject.  We have endured name calling and hearing about the end of the world as we know it if either candidate’s party wins.  Today we end the chaos and we  were had the opportunity to vote.

Forty years ago I spent the night watching the election returns from a hospital bed.  I was in labor with my son and spent the night with Nixon and Goldwater.  We didn’t have cable that long ago and there was nothing else on TV.  I was miserable that day but went to the polling place and voted early.

I decided to avoid the early morning crowd today and headed out to my polling place about 10am.  I posted a question on facebook about the lines at my polling place.  The responses and pictures indicated a very long line and wait.  The weather turned quite cold and wet today and I was not excited about the possibility of standing in the cold.  Reports from other polling places weren’t any more encouraging.

I arrived to find cars parked up and down the street for blocks.  I kept driving and found a place fairly close.  The line was outside but not as long as they had been in the morning.  I joined the group and found the line moving rather quickly.  In only fifteen minutes, I was at the front door. I was excited to see how close I was.  As I entered the building I realized the line went past the doors to vote and down a very long hall, circled at the end, and then back down the hall.  I decided to check my facebook and handle some emails in line.

The people in line were all patient.  No one was complaining about the long lines.  People were chatting and sharing stories of voting in past years.  Neighbors greeted each other with smiles and hugs.  I ran into a couple of people I haven’t seen in a while.   Babies were strapped into strollers while younger kids ran around and showed their disinterest in the process.

I was very surprised to see a room set up along the line with two people in scrubs and signs that read, ” Vote and Vax.”  You could get your flu shot while waiting in line with the guarantee that you would not lose your place in line.   I didn’t see many people taking advantage of the offer.

Several times we heard yelling and cheering coming from the main polling room.  We all shared our ideas about the noise.  When we got closer we heard the cheering again and heard the crowd cheering, “A first timer.”  They seemed genuinely excited about the new voters.

The last time I voted we had voting booths. This time we had long tables with touch screen computers and small dividers.  It provided space for more people to vote at one time.  Now if we could just figure out how to allow people to vote at home online.

I am glad I decided to exercise my right to vote.  I will watch with excitement to see who wins both nationally at the local level.  I know there will be many emotions as the results are announced.  I only hope we can come together and support our nation and newly elected officials.

This blog post is part of NaBloPoMo. The theme for November’s NaBloPoMo is blogging for blogging’s sake.

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