This fall’s midterm election is sure to be full of emotion, anxiety and a fair bit of tension. Many of us will go to the polls on November 6th to elect new or existing members to Congress to be our representatives in Washington DC. We will vote for those who most closely align with our individual ethical standards and our beliefs about what is important. The choices we make will have a substantial impact on the direction of our country and the world in the years ahead.
For some of us, however, the choices may be limited. The seat may be uncontested in your district, or none of the candidates might represent your values. In this case, your direct options are to vote for the least bad candidate or to get inspired to run for office yourself during the next election. That being said, voting in elections is not the only way to participate in democracy. There are other ways to express your ideals that are just as essential.
While the election this fall is important in shaping the politics of the coming years, there are other votes we all make, every day. These votes are choices, related to where we spend our money, our time and our thoughts. With these everyday votes, we can have an immeasurable impact on our community and the world around us. So while you’re deciding how to vote this fall in the election, I challenge you to also reflect on how you vote each day by running through this simple exercise below.
What you purchase:
Think about the products you purchase every day, week or month.
- Are the items produced in a way that you feel comfortable with?
- Are there alternatives that could meet your needs that better align with your beliefs? For example, if you are concerned about the environment, you might purchase organic products when possible or grow your own produce in a garden.
- Do you need to purchase said product or service at all? Often times the best choice for people and the planet is to purchase less. Ask yourself if this is a purchase you can forgo. The money saved can then be applied to a cause you believe in or to further secure your own financial future.
Where you spend your time:
Most of us work, socialize and spend our time in various ways, sometimes productively and sometimes simply for relaxation. How we spend our time is also a vote.
- Where do you work? Does the organization you work for share your values? If not, are there ways to make change within the organization to move it closer to your ideals? If not, would you consider making a change? Of course, most of us work to support ourselves and our families. However, we spend a significant amount of our life at our jobs and where we choose to spend that time is a type of vote.
- Where do you spend your personal time? Do you volunteer with a local non-profit that does work you find important? Do you spend your time raising your children to be positive members of society? There is no right answer to how you should spend your personal time, but there is a wrong answer if you’re not using your time in a way that supports your beliefs. Consider how you spend your time and give real thought if there are some changes that would satisfy your conscience.
How you allocate your thought:
This is a little less concrete than where you spend your money and time. But what you give your attention to is also a form of vote. All of us are bombarded each day with messages, ads and content vying for our awareness. You can’t possibly concentrate on everything happening around you, so you must choose what and whom to pay attention to.
- Take a moment to consider what you “think” about each day. Are your thoughts being spent on the right things or people?
- How can you better spend the limited attention you have each day to your benefit and to the benefit to those around you?
I hope this quick post and exercise is a useful and helpful reminder to reflect on the votes we all make each day. If together we make better choices, we can affect real change in our personal lives and in the world around us.
Please feel free to share in the comments below your thoughts on everyday votes you have made that you are proud of! What do you hope to change this fall?