Some Post-Election Thoughts: Standing Up for Myself

By Neal Lemery

(Originally published in the Tillamook County Pioneer, 11/13/22)

At a meeting the other day, a new member of the group spoke about their passion for a particular topic, which happened to be one of my passions as well. I’d been fairly quiet about the subject for a number of years. I decided to also speak up and add my voice to the new member’s enthusiastic advocacy.

I discovered I had a lot to say, and I didn’t hold back. The rest of the group soon joined in, with some being astonished at the statistics we shared about the importance of the topic, and how it was a good fit for our mission.

It felt good to speak up, to let my views be known, to let some passionate energy fill the room and enliven an agenda which had been fairly lackluster.

I’ve decided I need to do that more, to let my thoughts fly and express what is important in life.

“A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That’s why they don’t get what they want.” — — Madonna.

I suspect I’ve been frustrated by the politics of the recent election season, where it seemed like the advertising agencies had hijacked the discussions, where the political debates became focused on attack ads rather than a meaningful and deep discussion of the important issues of the day; how we can be solvers of problems and seekers of solutions, rather than spend our energy attempting to smear the character and reputation of the candidates.

Life is short and our time to influence a group of concerned people working on important subjects in our community is also limited. We shouldn’t think that we are just warming a seat in a group, that our opinions and passions shouldn’t really be aired, that we shouldn’t become engaged in taking on the hard parts of a problem. Time is precious and we have work to do. Our particular viewpoints matter. If they didn’t, we shouldn’t have put ourselves up for being considered as members of a particular group or board.

We aren’t here to just be window dressing, to be just a pretty face in a group. Each of us has our own unique contributions to make, our own perspectives, and yes, our own passionate and thoughtful points of view that should be heard and considered by others. As a part of the community, each of us has something unique to offer, something special, something worthy of consideration of others.

Democracy is a melting pot, a gathering of ideas and possibilities that enrich our discussions and provoking some well-informed debate and discussion. Every voice counts. When done with courtesy and respect, our discussions advance this important work of public conversation. An informed and enlivened discussion is what the founders of this republic imagined when they crafted the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and formed the various states. Yes, we can disagree and debate, but we need to do so in the spirit of wanting to learn from each other, to grow our ideas, and investigate alternatives and differing ideas. a

I’ve decided to speak my mind more, to air my ideas, and to listen hard to the ideas and passions of others, so that my own thinking is challenged, so that our ideas can develop and include the thoughts of others. Such work is the richness of our country, where we can grow ideas and work to find better solutions. We all benefit from that, and we raise our collective strengths to be good stewards of the Republic, to be better informed and productive.

11/12/22

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Neal Lemery

Author of Building Community, Rural Voices for Hope and Change; Mentoring Boys to Men, Climbing Their Own Mountains; Finding My Muse on Main Street.