The time I got politically involved

ConstitutionI’m going to think out loud here and invite you all to listen in.

Really, I’m just a stay-at-home-mom, who likes to write in her spare time and watch cheesy romantic comedies on Netflix. I go to Church, serve, and try to do my best. Most days my kids eat me for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I’m actually ok with that, because that’s what I signed up for. I follow the news, the issues and try to stay informed. I vote, write letters to the editor, my congressman and city councilors.

But then a few months ago, I found myself standing at a “line in the sand”. My line in the sand. And like Rev Tevya I couldn’t be bent any more without breaking. The particular issue is not important for this post, but I decided to get involved. In a matter of weeks, I found myself starting and managing a social media campaign about this issue, inviting people to join, researching, reading, writing about this issue, attending City Council meetings, and trying to find people willing to get involved.

Every morning I wake up and ask myself, “Is this really worth my time? Should I be doing this?” Because it is time consuming and it is taking me away from the things that I really want to do. But it’s still important. I’ve also searched my memory of my own past civic involvement and wondered how many times did I just “like” something on Facebook, but neglected to get involved past that meaningless push of a button. How many times have I left others to do the foot work for something that was really important to me?

As I’ve gone to meetings and seen the process of municipal government play out, I have been amazed by the process and the procedure. It moves slowly, but I think that might be good thing over all. That way we really make sure the things we do in our government have time to be studied and debated. The ironic thing in all of this process is that I taught high school government for years before I left teaching to have my family. I always gave extra credit to my students for going to City Council meetings and the like. I never went to one myself. Talk about life as a hashtag: #hypocrite #irony #badteacher.

I’ve actually felt pressed to repent for not being more aware and involved. As I’ve become involved, I have gained a testimony of the letter which is read in Sacrament Meetings near election times, “As citizens we have the privilege and duty of electing office holders and influencing public policy. Participation in the political process affects our communities and nation today and in the future. We urge Latter-day Saints to be active citizens…” Yes, participation in the political process does affect our community, and it is important to get involved past voting, past putting a sign in your yard, and definitely past clicking the “like” button on Facebook.

How will I be more civically involved after this issue has resolved? I will actively monitor the goings on of my local government by reading the agendas of the various committees, board and councils. I will attend those meetings and make informed public comments when something is important to me. I will continue to read the City Council agendas, watch the meetings online and go to them in person. I will become more involved in my political party of choice and encourage others to become involved as well. I remember a poem on the fridge at my Grandmother’s house growing up, it said, “If it is to be, it is up to me.” Wise words from a magnet on the fridge. We all have obligations to ourselves and families, but we also have the obligation as Latter-day Saints to be involved in the civic process. Get involved and make a difference in your town.

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About Joyce Anderson

Joyce is a mother, wife, sister, school teacher, Bulgarian speaker, conservative, lover of good music, social media junky and a two time culinary arts Grand Champion bread baker. She and the family reside in a remote mountain community where great discoveries have been made. When not changing the world, she enjoys the occasional bowl of chips and salsa. She can be found at: http://pinterest.com/TheAtomicMom

11 thoughts on “The time I got politically involved

  1. Not long after moving to my current community 15 years ago I became aware of several local issues that I felt needed change. I participated in voter registration efforts, publicised the concerns of like minded people by various means, and was drafted to run for the city council. I yielded up my candidacy and constituents to another candidate with the same aims and a better chance of winning. After he won a seat on the council he continued the path I could support but he was in the minority and the effect of his participation was negligible.
    Some friends who supported our efforts were subjected to harassment by government agencies. I suspect I was denied a permit to expand my home to include an art studio because of my activism. The building inspector said my current home was 1.5″ too close to the neighbor’s house and would have to be demolished if I added improvements.
    I discovered that many if not most municipal governments are deeply infected with progressive ideas wherein government at all levels becomes ever more intrusive.
    I backed off my activism in goverment because I saw how my more vulnerable offspring might be made to pay as they raise their families in the area. The only institutions I trust are the Church and the arts organization of which I am a member of the governing board.

  2. This is a good start.

    Why should we think of ourselves as exceptional for following direct counsel from Church leaders? Why should we think to earn a great reward, if we now shun the fight? Ensign: Get Informed, Get Involved To the contrary, we need to join forces. Those of us neglecting our attention to such responsibility are needed to help share the burden. There is far too much for anyone to do alone.

    I suppose if everyone contribution was as pathetic as mine, we could use all the help we can get.

  3. Jim, I have definitely felt alone in this fight, but slowly I am making friend and meeting the right people. I’ve been recruited to get involved in my local part of of choice, but I’m debating that still.

    Pat, I agree 100% with you. The corruption, even in a small town is staggering.

  4. Years ago (circa 2004) I participated in an effort to get high school start times changed. I testified at a meeting or two and performed analysis on the demonstrated decrease in teenage fatalities in car accidents associated with moving high school start times later.

    Next year my county (a crazy large one) will formally adopt the later high school start times. Thus each of my children will have a chance to experience a later High School starting time (though for my oldest, it was by dint of switching her education to an alternate facility).

    One of the things that I love about the gospel is the concept that we can each be inspired on a personal level to be God’s hands and God’s voice. Sometimes that means that we as individuals are called to opposing sides of an issue. Even in this, I maintain, God’s will is not thwarted.

    But coercive corruption is not Godly. So I am sorry to hear that coercion prompted you to cease involvement, Pat.

  5. I’ve taken my time on replying to this, risking the conversation moving on, as this touches on many other things on my mind. I don’t think I’d be very good at playing politics, as I have a hard time putting a price on something I believe is right.

    Joyce, what can we do in more local politics, when we’re not the types who can go out campaigning for things? There doesn’t seem to be much that a city council or school board does that seems to make an actual impact on the space between peoples’ private lives and the morass that appears to be state and national governance.

    When we’re not fighters or organizers, what can we do?

  6. Find people who are the organizers/fighters/campaigners and help them. One of my biggest stresses in all of this has been finding people who are willing to do small things. And like I said, attend meetings, make comments, be aware.

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