One of my earliest childhood memories involves wearing a Styrofoam parade hat while sitting on top of a large pachyderm in the middle of a large rally. My next earliest childhood memory I was about four years old and it includes my mother dialing the phone for me (because I wasn't old enough to do it yet), while I made get out the vote phone calls for our local Congressman. By the time I was twelve I had memorized the Preamble to the Constitution, and could recite all of the signers in alphabetical order. I grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC where we regularly passed the White House or the Capitol Building when we 'went into the city.' I lived in a ward that was the DC home to several elected officials. When I was a senior in high school I did my first Capitol Hill internship. My home teacher in high school was a Congressman, and my Sunday School teacher was a Senator. And by the time I graduated from college I had worked on a Presidential campaign.
In short, I guess you could say politics is in my blood. Being patriotic and feeling passionate about political causes is just who I am. I've never known anything else. Some call it Potomac Fever, others the Political Bug. Me? I just call it life.
I was an early-morning seminary student when I read Alma 60 for the first time. I remember it struck me completely. The whole chapter- a war chapter- resonated with me. It defined everything in me about how and why it is important to get involved in causes and issues.
Alma 60:27 And I will come unto you, and if there be any among you that has a desire for freedom, yea, if there be even a spark of freedom remaining, behold I will stir up insurrections among you, even until those who have desires to usurp power and authority shall become extinct.
28 Yea, behold I do not fear your power nor your authority, but it is my God whom I fear; and it is according to his commandments that I do take my sword to defend the cause of my country, and it is because of your iniquity that we have suffered so much loss.
I would never presume to tell anyone which causes and/or issues they should get involved in. And I would certainly never use this outlet to tell you how you should feel or vote for. (Although, it may become quite obvious where my biases lay.) But I do believe that if you have any desire or freedom, any spark of freedom lives in you, the Lord needs you to take up the sword to defend the cause!
There is a strong and critical difference between getting involved in politics, and getting involved in causes that you care about. For me, my most important passion is largely overlooked in most American politics- human trafficking. I traveled to Cambodia just a few months ago where I witnessed this atrocity first hand and shared that experience here on Meridian. I'm also passionate about the economy, stock market, as well as other human rights issues.
I spent the last week out on the road, deeply involved with a presidential campaign. I worked in the state headquarters in a battleground state, working with events and volunteers getting voters out on polling day. It thrilled my heart to see so many volunteers working so hard to help a candidate they believed in. Many came from around the country (they live in states where major grassroots activities will probably not happen) to canvass doors in the pouring rain, make phone calls, cheer at rallies, and maybe, hopefully get the chance to shake their candidate's hand. I hope they all got that chance!
Every individual person who gets involved in politics makes a difference. Every time someone spends a few hours making phone calls it helps a candidate (and you can do that from home, you don't have to go to an office). Every time someone picks up pen and paper and writes a well-thought out letter to the editor on a local issue, it makes a difference. Every time you donate just a few dollars to your local grassroots organization, it makes a difference. If there is a cause you care about, you can make a difference. You don't have to spend huge amounts of money to help your cause or candidate.
This past week I met an incredible woman. Her name is Ruth, and she's a single mother, probably in her 50s, and she's unemployed. Her electricity had been turned off because she had no money to pay the bill. She prayed for help, and the answer came to her to follow the campaign bus of a presidential candidate. She followed that prompting, got in the rope line, met the candidate, and told him her problem. Both he and a staffer on his campaign gave her some money and paid her bill for her. Out of gratitude, she came back to the campaign office every day for a week to help out. She is uneducated and poor. So what could she do to help? She jumped right in and cleaned the office for us. She took out the trash, vacuumed, swept the floors, and cleaned the windows.
Late one evening she showed up at the office with dinner for the staffers. I can't even begin to tell you how much we appreciated that. (Those of us who enjoyed the meal quickly offered her money to cover the costs.) Other volunteers showed up with donuts and coffee. One gentleman walked in an left a few notepads of paper with his company logo on it for us to use. We used them all up! My favorite volunteer walked in and saw that we could use a few more chairs. She went home and cleaned out her garage and brought in a few more tables and chairs so we could seat a few more volunteers. Anyone and everyone can make a difference on a campaign.
If there is any spark inside of you that cares about the future of your country, or about any issue or cause at all, you can make a difference! Educate yourself about the issues! Learn which organizations are involved in your issues. Support candidates that represent your views. And if you can't find a candidate or an organization- vocalize that! Become a mouthpiece yourself! Start a website, write a letter, go to parades and hold a sign, or whatever makes sense to you! Every voice is needed!
You may be surprised at my next statement. But please, put down the remote and turn off the TV! Stop watching Fox News or CNN! Do not rely on someone else's interpretation of what is happening within a cause or what a candidate says.