While this post is aimed primarily at US citizens, conceptually it applies to every participatory government.
Now that you’ve voted… you did vote, yes? Good. Now that you’ve voted, let’s talk for a moment about two things, teams and steps.
First, realize that after the election – as is the case after every election – we are all still on the same big team. The powers that be want us divided into camps. Red vs. blue. Black vs. white. Women vs. men. The more division, the easier it is for them to get their way. Trevor Noah discussed this at length in his book, Born a Crime, about how the ruling party managed to keep apartheid for so long in South Africa: by turning individual groups against each other.
My martial arts teacher, Stephen K. Hayes, has a wonderful expression:
Chaos at the bottom means order at the top.
Order at the bottom means chaos at the top.
When ordinary people fight each other and distract each other with trivialities, the powerful benefit. When ordinary people unite, those in power tend to lose it if they’ve not governed well.
The first step to taking power away from those who want to control you is to see the game for what it is. Every time a news story or a social media post provokes you to anger, recognize that it’s part of the control mechanism to encourage you to hate someone who’s on the same team. Refuse to play along and instead find something that does the opposite. Go for a walk, meditate, volunteer somewhere – anything that does the opposite of invoking anger. Refuse the play the game, refuse to be controlled, refuse to see someone else as the enemy just because you’re told to.
Second, let’s talk next steps. No matter what the outcome of the election is, you likely have a point of view about how the world should be, how the world should work, how you want to be treated. What are the positive manifestations of those views? What will you do to bring those to life? Voting is important, a critical civic duty. But it’s not the only thing we could do. If you believe, for example, in equal pay for equal work for women, what project, research, or work will you do tomorrow to advance that cause?
A popular term in business circles lately is the side hustle, the thing you do outside of work. I agree that everyone should have one, but it doesn’t have to be for profit. Your side hustle could be socially-related – advancing a cause, helping those less fortunate, donating time, money, and effort to making the world a better place. From that perspective, what will your side hustle be after the polls close?
Side hustles don’t have to be big, and can leverage what you’re already skilled at. If, for example, you know SEO well, donate some time and effort to a non-profit whose mission you care about to optimize their website and attract a few more donations.
If you voted in the election, thank you. Now, take the next step and invest a little time each day towards a side hustle that helps make the world a better place.
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Also published on Medium.