What's an active citizen?
Being an active citizen means paying attention to what's going on in your community and playing a role in shaping it for the better.
Isn't that easier said than done?
It can feel easier - and oh so tempting - to go along with society's status quo, especially if you personally aren't negatively affected by it. Sometimes it feels like we're so small, just one little fish in a big ol' pond, and we don't have any real power to do anything about...well, anything.
The truth is, yep, it can be hard to really engage with issues and become an active citizen. There are so many problems for society to tackle - so which one do you choose? There can be a lot of barriers. It can mean getting attention you don't want. It can mean coming up against roadblocks and being let down. Even in the most democratic societies, making progress can be a challenge. It's even harder if you're from a marginalised part of the community.
Why do it, then?
Think back over history. People coming together to fight for what's right is really the only thing that's ever made a difference. There are countless examples, from women getting the vote to the abolition of slavery to LGTBI rights and so much more. But no matter how far we've come, there's always more to do. Things being 'better than they were' is no reason not to make them better still.
There's also always the risk of society backsliding due to negative influences. Yes, Donald Trump, I'm looking at you. Suddenly, there's a President of the United States that talks about grabbing women 'by the pussy'. In what world is that acceptable? Every 'word and deed' has a ripple effect throughout the community, so we need to fight back when we see standards of behaviour slipping.
And I've said this before, but I'll say it again, what could be a more beautiful legacy than leaving the world a better place?
"There is nothing beyond the reach of ordinary citizens doing the daily work of democracy, and no problem too great to tackle with the power of active citizenship. " - Joan Claybrook
How do I become an active citizen?
There are so many ways to get involved, big and small. I'm going to write about them in my next blog, but just to give you an idea...you can:
- Write to your political representatives
- Get involved in volunteering
- Attend council meetings
- Make submissions on legislation
- Create petitions
- Start or join a group
- Ask questions
- Lead by example
- Talk to people in your community about what matters to them
Just get started, however small your first action may be! You never know where it may lead.
Feel the fear. Be your best. Give back.