How many of us can honestly say that we take enough notice of current affairs? If we’re honest, the numbers are a lot lower than they should be. It’s understandable; the world seems in such an unfortunate situation that it’s easier to turn off the news and look the other way. This comes about, in part, by the belief that nothing we do will make a difference anyway. This is particularly the case in the younger generation who, encouraged by icons like Russell Brand, make a conscious decision not to vote. To them, it seems like watching a car crash and being unable to rescue the victims. Why put yourself through it? The only thing to be gained is distress.
There’s no denying that change needs to happen, but is abstaining from politics the answer? On his Youtube show, ‘The Trews’, Russell Brand has repeatedly urged people not to vote. His reasoning for the argument was that it was the only way to ensure government took notice. He has since backtracked on the point, but young people don’t forget. In many ways, the damage was done the moment he uttered the words.
Of course, it’s not only iconic figures that have swayed us against making political decisions. In general, attitudes are low. Many people misunderstand politics, or feel as though their votes don’t matter. Many also find that there’s no one party they’re willing to back anyway. If there’s no one you feel worthy of your vote, what’s the point in voting at all? It’s all the same anyway, right?
Voting aside, we often let government make decisions we’re not happy with. From benefit cuts, to acts of violence, we sit back and let it happen. Why? Because we don’t feel like we have a voice. In a country where power should be with the people, we have allowed ourselves to be silenced. The definition of democracy is: ‘A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.’ So, why are we so resigned to our lack of power? Could we make a change if we wanted to?
Of course, a full-blown revolution isn’t something any of us want. We like our peaceful lives, and it makes sense that we want them to stay that way. But, sitting back and hoping things turn out for the best may not be the way, either. Instead, we need to find a happy medium. We need to inform ourselves and be conscious of the world around us. We also need to know what steps we can take to get our voices heard.
A fantastic example of the power of the people can be found in Brexit. Whether you agreed with the results or not, no one can argue that the people asked for a change and got it. Instead of becoming disheartened by the stresses and divides, we should come together to celebrate the fact that we proved our power. If you don’t believe you can make a change, look at this as your inspiration. We still have our voices; no one has silenced us yet.
But, what if you want to shout louder? Where else can you find your voice? First on your journey, it’s important to inform yourself. The more you know, the louder you can be. Nobody likes the misinformed person at the party who spouts opinions that aren’t based in fact. And, how can you develop ideas at all if you don’t know what’s happening? We all have a responsibility to know as much as we can. Aristotle said that ‘All men (and women) by nature desire to know’.
The good news is, knowledge has never been so easy to find. There are, of course, the traditional methods, like the television news, and newspapers. But, these constrict us in some ways. You may find it harder to absorb news if you have to go out of your way for it. Instead, it may be worth downloading news apps onto your phone. That way, you can scroll through them whenever you have a spare minute. Apps like The Guardian, BBC News, the New York Times, and Washington Post offer many articles to browse through. If you don’t think you would find time, look instead to social media. There’s a lot more political discussion on platforms like Twitter than you might expect. This is fantastic when you’re starting out because it’s a website you’re already familiar with and using. Though, it may be worth gaining news from different sources. There’s no denying that each source has a bias, so getting opinions from each is your best way to find a middle ground.
Once you have some idea of what’s happening, you’ll start to realize what most interests you. Take notice of which articles you click on, and consider whether there’s an ongoing theme. If it does turn out that you’re most interested in a particular topic, it may be worth doing a little more research. If you often click on articles about Brexit, look into how article 50 will affect you, and your local businesses. If the NHS crisis most interests you, research funding cuts, and average staff nurse salaries. Breaking things into chunks this way may show you that finding your voice is not as hard as you first thought. You can’t tackle every issue, but developing your views on one or two things is your best chance to make a change.
Once you’re informed, it’s important you use your knowledge. It may be that your research has led you to a particular political party. The easiest way to support the cause is to donate money, or set up a direct debit. Depending on how involved you want to be, you could sign up as a member. This isn’t as daunting as it may sound. It means that you’ll receive communication from the party. It also allows you to get involved in campaigning.
And, there’s plenty you can do to make a change from the backlines, too. It may be that you use your social media to get the message across. Social media has made it easier than ever to get our voices heard. The main thing to bear in mind here is that you need to inform yourself before you post. The more you know, the better. It’s also best to stick with facts, rather than expressing opinions. That way, it’ll be easy to stick to your guns if people disagree with what you’re saying. No one can argue with facts and figures.
It’s also worth mentioning protesting. We’ve already discussed why revolt isn’t the way forward, but peaceful protests do more than you might think. They’re also a fantastic way to meet like-minded people, who may have further ideas about actions you could take. Plus, the atmosphere alone makes you feel like you’re involved in something special. Of course, protests aren’t all fun and games. Things can get violent, and police become involved. If you sense the atmosphere of any protest changing, it’s best to get out. Remember that people who resort to that behaviour give your cause a bad name. No one will commend you when they turn on the evening news. Instead, they’ll see violence and disturbance. That’s no way to move forward. Plus, it could land you in a prison cell. To protect yourself, learn your rights of arrest before you go. Even if you don’t expect violence, things can get out of control.