Monday, July 25, 2011

Simple Suggestion #45... Write to politicians about issues important to you and your community

Okay, I admit it. I complain about politicians. Who doesn't? But honestly, if I'm living according to the tenets of Voluntary Simplicity, that means I'm eradicating those things that are excessive, frivolous and useless in my life, things that don't bring me joy and pleasure. Badmouthing our civil servants is one of those things. Honestly, I wouldn't want their jobs, and what is the use of complaining, anyway? To take pleasure in bellyaching is a poor use of energy when I could "be the change [I] want to see," as Ghandi put it so well.

So, since jumping on the Voluntary Simplicity bandwagon, I've tried to do things differently. Rather than complaining that my politicians are out of touch, I'm keeping in touch with them on issues of importance. After all, if they don't know what their constituents think, how are they supposed to do the right things?

Recently, our daughters' K-12 French Immersion School has been threatened with closure. At the beginning of June, a school meeting was held where people were invited to voice their concerns. My husband and I attended to express our opinions, but I couldn't just leave it at that. After a few days of thinking about the situation, I wrote a letter to school board members, superintendents and city councillors to voice my opposition to the idea of moving a successful program from the heart of the city to the distant suburbs. I received several interesting responses, and have since heard that a small committee of parents are actively working to keep our school in the public eye and off the chopping block. Things seem to be starting to turn around, one of the parents told me recently.

It's easy to be cynical and say that letter writing doesn't have any impact on political decisions, but if a letter isn't getting the right kind of response, how about a phone call? A visit to a politician's office? A group gathering of like-minded folks signing a petition and presenting it in person? There are ways to be heard; it just takes a bit of creativity sometimes.

Here I'll put in a little plug for It's an online community of activists who tackle world-wide issues through internet petitions. They've had some interesting successes. The most recent petition I signed was to Canada's Minister of the Environment, asking her to reconsider a mega-quarry proposal that would disrupt a farming community and threaten the headwaters of a few important rivers in Ontario. In my books, saving farmland is important! Avaaz sends out notices of its campaigns, allowing its subscribers to pick and choose they ones they want to be involved with. They also encourage other methods to connect with politicians so that the voice of the people is heard.

So, enough complaining. Who has heard your voice lately?

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Try here.

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