There is always so much happening around us. Whether it be climate change, BLM, educational reform, or any other pressing issue, there is always much to be done and all of it always seems to need immediate attention. Sure, maybe in an ideal situation, we would be able to effectively give our time, energy, and efforts to every issue, all of the time (and please don’t be that one person who states, “well, an ideal situation would mean none of this exists,” I know that, and that is not where this conversation is going).
The reality, however, is that we have limits. Emotionally, financially, physically… we all have our limits, and if we push them too far, we risk harming ourselves. These are valid, and yet not an excuse to remain silent and uninformed. So, how do we make an impact for the bigger problems without permanently fatiguing our nervous system? The answer is we need to show up for the smaller ones.
Whenever we see a large political issue take place, such as what’s happening in regard to Roe v. Wade, nearly everyone is shocked and confused on how this can happen. And while so many later come to arms to defend basic human rights, no one ever wonders how we arrived there in the first place. It is time we begin taking preventative actions, rather than reactive ones.
A lot of what we see occurring in Congress, The White House, or The Supreme Court is due to neglecting local events, elections, and voting opportunities. For instance, do you vote for your town’s Sherriff? Most people that I know (myself included until recently) do not. However, these are the same people horrified by the police brutality the plagues the news. If we are mindful of the Sheriffs we place in office, we can understand their stance on supporting the Black community, implicit bias trainings, accountability, and so on. This is preventative action.
More often than not, the concerns we hear on national news are immediately overwhelming and make us feel as though there’s no point or that our voices will never be heard. When we are hearing about things occurring locally that may later impact larger decisions, it can feel as though we have more control of the situation, our voices are more likely to be heard, and provides us time to strategize and create effective plans if we are dismissed. And just because you may choose to remain updated on local concerns (which I encourage you too), does not mean you must be hypervigilant.
Personally, staying on top of local news for me means researching “New in New Hampshire Politics this week,” once a week on Google. This keeps me up to date on new bill proposals, concerns, and so on. More often than not, the updates feel more manageable, such as health updates for Middle School lunches. And in the moments, they don’t, actions required typically feel more manageable, such as signing a petition, sending a quick email, or making a vote. This work is necessary, but we cannot do it effectively if we are harming ourselves in the process.