Civic Engagement sounds official.
It sounds painful, and academic.
It sounds like homework.
This couldn't be further from the truth.
Civic Engagement means getting involved.
It means helping, and sharing.
It means taking a stand for what you believe.
When you engage yourself, you recharge your civic batteries. You are a positive member of society, not a negative drain.
There are 4 main types of personalities when we talk about Civic Engagement.
We all have friends and family like this. They aren't interested in what's happening in government, and if they do engage in a conversation, they usually spout off whatever headlines they may have read or seen on TV without context to back it up. But really, they don't care about voting, they aren't interested in getting involved, and don't really want to hear about it.
These are the people who are "too smart" to get involved. Cynics who read the paper or websites like Huffington Post or National Review, then take potshots and snipe at policy and government if they are pressed into conversation. But when the rubber hits the road, they are nowhere to be found. They will vote in a popular election, but will usually deride any sort of local movement or political activity because "It's not going to do anything anyway." "All politicians are crooks" is what they want their motto to be. "Laziness" is what it really is.
This is my favorite group of people. They want to help. They want to get involved, but maybe they don't yet know how to. They will get involved if they think they are wanted or "allowed to". They are excited to be a part of the movement, of the cause, or even of the party. They are our greatest untapped resource, and there are more of them than you might think. It is up to us to draw them into the conversation, to a meeting, to a point of engagement so they may realize their true potential.
These folks are the movers and the shakers. The "Let's go get it done" crowd. Whether running for office, supporting a candidate or party, or donating their time at a soup kitchen or animal shelter, these people have gotten it right. It feels good to be part of a team, striving toward a common goal.
They want you to join them. Get involved. Engage.
Engagement creates accomplishment. And it must be cultivated.
I'll leave you today with one of my favorite quotes, from Margaret Mead:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world;
indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."