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Don’t Vote – Do

We like to think that when we vote, we are having an effect on the governance of our nation. But if the 2016 Presidential Election, taken together with its primary elections, has taught us anything, it is that this is not true. Faced with two quite unpopular candidates, one illegitimately foisted upon us, the other an ignorant and foolish bully, we are asked to vote. And then we face similar voting conundrums lower-down on the ballot. If I live in California, Must I vote for Nancy Pelosi or Dianne Feinstein again? Worse than that – it hardly matters anyway. Our elected officials are pretty-much controlled by the corporations that fund their campaigns. But then, they are really just like you and me.

Our vote serves to satisfy our desire to feel civic-minded. And to a degree it works that way. Still, few thoughtful people can deny that we currently live in a nation that invests directly in endless war, planet-wide climate catastrophe, desperate poverty, authoritarian controls, and constant attacks on our freedoms - yet the imperative to do something is lacking! This is largely because we are deeply embedded in the (broken) system. Our conflicts of interest are too deep to face: how can we seriously challenge our employer’s activities without delegitimising our role within the organization? Since our work is not only the source of our income, but also a substantial part of our self-identity, hardly anyone can accept the financial and psychological anxiety that such a challenge entails. Each of our individual decisions not to confront the roots of our situation are made subconsciously – who would willingly put themselves in danger? There can be no blame here.

The platitudes are endless: “If only people would wake up!”; “Get involved in politics!”… Denial causes us not to realize that traditional politics are dead. Major corporations rule the land, and they do not report to us. Even the activists amongst us continue to fight the last war. It is largely a waste of time waging a political campaign above the local level - unless the main goal is to get a message out – and there are many mechanisms in place working to prevent even that.

So - don’t vote – do! But wait, what do I do? Maybe start with this:

But first the most important thing:
“What are you doing in these great times?

Great, I say, for times seem great
to me, when each man driven
half to death by the era’s hate,
and standing in the place he’s given,

Must willy-nilly contemplate
no less a thing than his own BEING!
A little breath, a second’s wait
May well suffice you catch my meaning?”

-Peter Gan, 1935.


Yes, take a second, and Do what needs to be done. With the very system you inhabit running in the wrong, almost anything you might do to change this situation is what you should do, short of violence. There are a few examples on this site in previous essays, but those examples are really only just a few obvious things. Work with your talents, your interests, your deeper self – and what you need to do will pop out at you, any day, any time, many many times. Small choices, larger efforts - just do it.



Thomas Twinnings 2 months ago

Sometimes it is just as important what you do not do.