Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, former speaker of the House, once famously said, “All politics is local.” It is one of the key beliefs when it comes to winning political campaigns. Think about that phrase. How does “local” matter to your family — and how can you learn to successfully advance a worthy cause?
Kids need to know and believe that individual efforts matter. They need to learn that working hard with focus is the way to change the world — or at least their corner of it. It is important to learn how to step up and lead the charge when something matters to them. Whether they want to fight hunger, save the whales, support a politician, or change a school rule, they must take several steps to become a happy warrior for change.
Commenting on posts or shared articles can very quickly devolve into profanity-laden name calling, ruining friendships or causing family rifts.
There are multiple ways for families to get involved in what they truly care about.
Whatever your method, first ensure you thoroughly understand your cause or concern. Be able to discuss it rationally and intelligently. You will not have much effect on people if you just keep repeating talking points.
You must also stay calm and respectful in every discussion. Have statistics ready and practice speaking — why is your candidate better than another? Why should neighbors sign a petition to put up a new stop sign downtown? Why are you fighting for change?
The most common and popular way to reach people today is by using social media. Kids are great at this. Even though the internet reaches around the globe, your primary contacts will be people close to you, through either distance or relationship. There are some drawbacks with this method, so keep them in mind, and instruct your kids if they are promoting a cause online. It is very easy for someone to unfollow, unlike or block what they are saying or sharing.
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Also, commenting on posts or shared articles can very quickly devolve into profanity-laden name-calling, ruining friendships or causing family rifts. Instead of posting as yourself, think about creating a group, a blog, or an alternative account to promote your cause.
My own first foray into social media activism was to start a Facebook page in 2009 for my Second Amendment advocacy. I was concerned about the direction our country was taking after calls by many in the media to restrict firearms. It was a national partisan effort to, in my opinion, violate the clearest amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
I had two main objectives with the group I created. The first was to express my feelings and try to help others see my viewpoint. I felt that I could help people understand the issues surrounding the gun rights debate. I thought people should have the knowledge to counter the spread of bad information and flawed arguments of the anti-gun community.
My second objective was to create a place where people could see the many “good-guy-with-a-gun” stories that normally fail to gain any attention from national media outlets. My goals were clear and doable.
I eventually branched out to Twitter, and started a YouTube channel. Slowly but surely, my message was getting out there.
Besides establishing and building an online presence, get involved in your community. Make friends. Join clubs and organizations dedicated to your priorities and causes. Volunteer. Getting out of your safe space and meeting people is the foundation of local activism. When you establish yourself with others, it’s much easier to present your beliefs, especially if you are knowledgeable.
Use your natural talents to spread your message. I have always naturally put my thoughts together accurately on paper, so I write about what I care about. Many songs have been written as a form of activism, too. If you have a special talent — use it. Take advantage of your skills.
Teach your children that by actively participating, they can influence others.
My pages aren’t the biggest and my videos are not the most watched. I do, however, satisfy my desire to share my opinion, thoughts, and viewpoint. I am confident my efforts have helped others see things in a different light.
My conversations have cleared confusing topics up for others.
Because of individual efforts by millions, the media in America are losing their power. They know it, and lash out by trying to negatively label and attack us with terms like “deplorables.” Through online and local interactions, these terms have actually been turned into proudly worn badges of honor.
Start your activity locally and grow your efforts. Teach your children that by actively participating, they can influence those around them. The focused efforts of “We, the People” can overcome any negativity.
Change begins in our own backyard.
John Cylc is a husband and father, and an eight-year military veteran from eastern Tennessee. His primary advocacy is Second Amendment rights.