In my book, Most Good, Least Harm, I have a chapter on “Activism, Volunteerism, and Democracy.” My contention is that in order to create a more sustainable, peaceful, and humane world, we not only need to make personal choices that do the most good and the least harm and choose work and careers that contribute to more restorative systems, but we also need to participate fully as changemakers and that means being active, of service, and a full participant within our democratic systems.
I’ve been an activist for half of my life and a volunteer in many capacities since college, most significantly in my full-time, unpaid role as the president of the Institute for Humane Education, but my participation in our democratic system has been meager. True, I can’t remember having ever missed an election, but voting once a year is hardly full participation in democracy.
So last Sunday, I headed to my town municipal building for our caucus, committed to be a more active member of my community and more politically involved. I was under the mistaken impression that we’d be caucusing to determine our gubernatorial candidate. I spent the morning reading all the websites of our candidates and contacted a friend who worked with one of them to get his opinion, so I felt reasonably prepared. But it turns out we have a primary for that (that’s how uninformed I was), and this was not the purpose of our caucus. There were fewer than 25 of us there (in a town of 1,500). I quickly found out why. The purpose of the caucus was to introduce some local candidates to the community, sign some petitions so that candidates could run for office, and elect people for various civic roles. With so few people in the room, it was hard not to wind up with a role.
I was asked to serve as a delegate at the Maine Democratic Convention in May. I hemmed and hawed. I talked about my busy travel schedule and my uncertainty about whether I’d be able to attend. I asked what I would do as someone who might in fact be supporting the Green candidate rather than the democratic candidate (I’m a registered Democrat in order to participate in caucuses and primaries, but I’m really a philosophical Green Independent). I was offered many reassurances. I said yes.
So here I am, finally practicing this piece of what I’ve preached and trying my hand at the political process with more commitment than an annual vote. Wish me luck!
Author of Most Good, Least Harm and Above All, Be Kind
Like my blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Filed under: changemakers, citizen activism, community service, MOGO (Most Good), politics, systemic change | Tagged: changemakers, citizen activism, democracy, Maine, politics, systemic change, volunteering | Comments Off