In a time when the political landscape seems daunting, and the future feels uncertain, it’s easy to succumb to feelings of disillusionment and even hopelessness. With the fabric of our society fraying, it’s completely understandable to feel disheartened by the state of our nation’s affairs.
From the erosion of abortion rights to book banning by extremists and an ever-warming planet, it can feel like our voices are drowned out in a cacophony of partisan noise, our concerns dismissed by those in power. Despite the challenges we face, we must speak up and work for the change we believe in.
Here are nine reasons not to give up:
Being civically engaged is good for you.
If you’re like a lot of people, being informed can be a double-edged sword. You know what’s happening, but it can lead to overwhelm. Putting your concerns into action helps you thrive and persevere.
- Maintaining agency: By staying engaged and involved in the political process, you retain agency over your own life and future. One example of using your agency is choosing to focus your energy not on worry, but on taking meaningful action. However small they may seem, taking action contributes to shaping your world. This can restore a sense of hopefulness about the future.
- Preserving rights: What rights are important to you, personally? Whether it’s freedom of speech, reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ rights, or environmental justice, speaking up for what you believe in truly serves as a bulwark against regression. Learning to advocate ensures that your rights and freedoms, hard-won through decades of struggle, are not eroded. When ground is lost, your opposition to these changes keeps the powerful in check. Silence condones.
- Mental Health: Staying politically or socially active in causes you believe in can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment, essential for maintaining mental well-being in challenging times. In our experience at AoCC, being part of a community working together can uplift in a way that working alone does not. Agitating for your rights with like-minded and like-hearted peers can be a source of resilience and strength.
Being civically engaged is good for your community/ies.
Because we are all connected, your involvement has a positive ripple effect:
- Representation: Your active participation ensures that the concerns of your community are not sidelined in discussions and decision-making processes. For example, women’s advocacy in the field of medicine has led to improvements in everything from research, birth, mental health, cancer treatment, and health insurance expansion. By letting your concerns be known, you bring attention to issues that directly impact the communities of which you’re a part.
- Building solidarity: Working alongside like-minded individuals fosters a sense of solidarity and support. An outstanding example of solidarity comes from Black Lives Matter’s community-led organizing efforts. According to the Brookings Institution report, “[BLM] helped usher in a series of policy and organizational changes to policing that include implicit bias training, body-worn cameras, and bans on no-knock warrants.” Don’t go it alone. Coming together with others can effect greater change than one person alone and provide vital sustaining energy.
- Providing encouragement: You probably have a handful of people you look up to and whose example serves as a beacon of hope. Likewise, your refusal to give up can inspire others to join your cause and overcome feelings of cynicism. Our Checklist started with one person saying aloud, “I can send you an email with ideas on how to help.” Seven years later and with over a hundred thousand subscribers, followers, and supporters, we’re still here, encouraging people to get and stay engaged. It only takes one person. It can be you.
Being civically engaged is good for our nation’s future.
Your involvement in positive change extends beyond the personal and local, helping shape the direction of our nation into the future.
- Protecting democracy: The essence of democracy lies in the participation of its citizens. By remaining engaged and vigilant, you can prevent its erosion by those who want to end it. For many Americans, for example, the act of voting is an increasingly and strategically difficult task. Choosing to advocate for fair electoral processes—locally and federally—empowers voters to use their voices at the ballot box.
- Fostering change: History has shown us time and again that change is possible, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Perhaps you have already been part of historic efforts to create a better nation through Title IX, desegregation, Earth Day, the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act, ending specific wars, the Equal Pay Act, or enacting gun safety policies. If you you’re new to activism, click any of those links for inspiration. Individuals and communities have created measurable progress in our lifetimes, and there’s no reason to stop now. America can become a more just and equitable society with our involvement.
- Leaving a Legacy: Jane Goodall. Malala Yousafzai. Greta Thunberg. Tarana Burke. Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Emma González. Despite criticism, backlash, and even violence, these women decided to speak up and work against seemingly insurmountable odds. As a result, they leave us a legacy of courage, resilience, and real impact. While you may not have the world’s attention as they do, your actions today still have the power to shape the trajectory of our nation. The risks of showing up are worth the possibility of changing the future for the better.
It’s important to act now.
While the road ahead may be fraught with challenges, we must refuse to give up. Too many of our neighbors are being left behind. Too many movements need our voices of support. The fraying edges of democracy need mending before they’re torn completely.
If you’re not sure where to start this journey, our Checklist of actions makes it easy to begin. Together, we can overcome the obstacles before us and build a brighter tomorrow. We just can’t do it without you.
Need some good news?
- The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Spring Reservation, and the Nez Perce Tribe sign an agreement with the U.S. government and present-day Oregon and Washington states to restore salmon populations and protect their habitats.
- The Biden-Harris administration addresses the rise of antisemitism and Islamophobia at schools and on college campuses.
- To reduce health risks, the FDA ends the sale of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances [PFAS], the “forever chemicals” used in grease-proof food packaging.
- The DOJ outlines specific standards that hospitals and clinics must satisfy to meet the accessibility and healthcare needs of disabled patients.
- The FDA approves the first gene therapies to treat sickle cell disease addressing a “significant unmet need” for treatment.
- Venezuela will no longer accept flights of aspiring Americans deported from the U.S., a federal government tactic intended to deter migration to the U.S.
- People who immigrate to the U.S. will contribute $7T to the economy over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
- Indiana students can continue to use the school bathrooms that best align with their gender identity as a related case will not be taken up by SCOTUS.
- The town of Neodesha, KS is thriving due to the availability of tuition-free college for high school graduates.
- An appeals court blocks a motion to stop protections for Wisconsin voters who make small errors in their absentee ballots.
- 20 major tech companies sign an accord to adopt precautions against election-related deepfakes generated by artificial intelligence.
- North Dakota State University will offer free tuition for certain ND and MN students during the 2024-2025 school year.
- A coalition of solar companies and conservationists determine a set of principles to move forward with green energy projects while preserving landscapes and benefiting local communities.
- YouTube begins labeling AI-generated videos, while Instagram and Facebook will label AI-generated images.
- The Rollettes dance team features dancers with disabilities.
- Artists and environmentalists creatively repurpose ocean plastics.
- The digital library app Libby features the Queer Liberation Library, a free compilation of literature, information, and resources for the LGBTQ+ community.
- Ruth Gottesman made a $1B donation to cover students’ tuition at NYC’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
- Beautiful News Daily shares their own set of good news in free-to-use infographics.
- Thanks to wildlife corridors and conservation efforts, jaguars reappear in the American Southwest.