The freedom to vote is a freedom I cherish. For me it’s not just about the freedom to vote, it represents a wider set of freedoms that accompany living in a democracy. You only have to switch on the news, or look at what is being shared on social media to recognise the value of democracy.
In the UK, and many other countries around the world, we have an amazing level of freedom, and it grows all the time. I am grateful every day for the freedoms I enjoy which allow me to live my life on my terms and pursue my goals and dreams.
Yet I have friends, some very close friends (you know who you are), who don’t exercise their right to vote. It’s not something they cherish. And I guess, when I think about it, the freedom to vote also includes the freedom not to vote; after all if it was compulsory to vote it would probably not feel like a democracy at all.
And my friends are not alone. Many people feel completely disengaged with politics, and feel that there is very little point in voting. What does it really change? Aren’t politicians ultimately all the same? Does it really make a difference?
Arguably, such feelings in the US have led to Trump’s rise; running on an anti-establishment ticket, proclaiming the system is wrong and needs fixing. I don’t necessarily disagree with Trump’s point that the system could benefit from some fixing, but my personal view is that I don’t think Trump is the one to fix it. I’m sure there are many that would disagree with me on that.
But perhaps we are directing our frustrations to politicians when we should be looking closer to home. Perhaps we’ve got into a habit of voting for someone and putting the burden of change entirely on their shoulders, with none for ourselves. Living in a democracy is more than just voting and outsourcing responsibility for what happens in the world to a bunch of politicians, who many believe are just in it for themselves.
Let’s face it, we are all in it for ourselves. And we all have a collective responsibility to make the world a better place, to contribute to a better society, to connect with people on a human level and to look for what brings us together, rather than searching for what drives us apart.
If you’re feeling apathetic towards voting, if you feel that politicians are all the same and that there is no point, there’s a chance that you are feeling apathetic towards your own existence, and to those around you.
Be the change, make a difference, vote for yourself. Write your own manifesto for the change you want to see in the world and work with people around you to make that happen. No matter how small the change you make, you have the ability to change someone’s life.
Even if it is only one life, it is worth the effort. Especially if that one life is your own.
Dream more. Do more. Become more…