Sunday, July 30, 2006

Political Action Hobbies

Being politically involved is one of the few hobby-type activities that really can make a difference in the world. Like volunteering, political activism allows you to help the world, or at least your world. There are a few ways to get involved in political activism. Some of them are labor-intensive while others are simpler to do.

The most low impact political activism is that of membership. Become a member in an organization in whose cause you believe. Every year you will write a check. Then you will receive mailings throughout the year that will update you on the issues. You can keep up and be informed through this literature.

Writing letters is one of the simplest things that you can do when it comes to political activism. You can write letters to elected officials or to your local newspaper. Write to individuals whose stories made a difference. Write to someone in prison. You can become involved from the comfort of your home on this level.

If you are up for something that is a bit more active, then begin going to meetings. Most political action groups are starved for members. Most people would rather go about their lives and not think about the problems in the community, so these groups tend to be very small. You can help solve that problem by being willing to get active. If you find a local group, go to a meeting and introduce yourself. You can begin with very small activities until you see if you like it. Many of these groups need people to hand out flyers or to take money at the next fundraiser. You can volunteer in small blocks of time.

Planning an event takes a lot more work, but it is an amazing experience when you plan a large event. If you do not belong to a group or if there is not one in your area, then you can start one. You just need two or three people to get started. Then you can work on your own to plan events, or you can work with other established groups. Be sure that your events are well planned and have a clear message, and you will be able to get people to pay attention to what you are trying to say.

Volunteering for one specific event is another way that you can get politically involved. You would offer to help with one event and then move along. For example, your church may have a dinner to honor the ideology of World Hunger Day. You could offer to cook or decorate. You would be working on that specific event. The benefit of this type of involvement is that you can do as much or as little as you would like. No one will be put out with your lack of participation, and you will find that you enjoy your involvement more.

People who are really serious about political involvement often make it a huge part of their lives. Every decision becomes in some way political. You may only shop at certain stores or refuse to shop at others, for instance, because you are not comfortable with labor or production practices. You will make an effort to be conscientious about everything in your life. In that way, political activism becomes a lifestyle decision instead of just a passing hobby.

Whatever you decide to do, be sure that you are reliable and that you give your new hobby everything you can. This hobby is not one for people who do not want to be depended upon. Others will rely on you to carry through with plans and to do the things that you said you would do. That means that you should think hard before agreeing to devote your time and energy, or even money, to a cause. If you cannot do something, speak up and say so. Doing that is better than having people think you will do something only to find out that you will not be available.

Political activism as a hobby is something that will stay with you for life. You will never get too old to be politically active. Instead you can learn to enjoy the time you spend changing the world now and have something to do for the rest of your life.

By Julia Mercer

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