Many folks are finding the events of the past few years and especially the past few months to be weird, strange, scary and depressing. It's hard to process how quickly and how badly democracy has been slipping in the world. It's easy to feel there is nothing to be done except plug our ears and yell "I'm not listening!"
But there are things we can do.
If you are on the side of democracy, realize that voting is like a lot of other things.
Just because you do it once doesn't mean you never have to do it again.
Every election is important, at every level of government, every single time.
There is no such thing as "democracy is safe now, so I can relax". Or, "I trust those running our county/town/province/state/country, so I don't have to think about policy or issues anymore".
Because the person/party not currently in power is spending plenty of time and energy figuring out how to get back into power.
If you don't want that to happen, you have to be on your toes, with your ears and eyes open and your brain engaged, all the time.
One thing you can do right now, even if there is no election imminent at the local, regional or national level where you live, is to make sure you are registered to vote.
If you aren't registered already, start the process now. If you aren't sure if you're registered, find out. If you're going to be out of the area or country when the next election hits, figure out now how you can vote early or from a distance. If you wait until the election is upon you, it may be too late.
And if you know anyone who is not registered, find out why. If you can help them, please help. If they don't think voting is important, help them understand why it is and what's at stake.
If you are unclear on these things, read up on them or find YouTube channels or podcasts which help explain.
One YouTube channel I've started watching is Brian Tyler Cohen, a liberal activist whose YouTube videos are brief, knowledgeable, and well-presented, and whose podcasts are longer but also interesting and I say that as someone who doesn't usually like podcasts. Don't be put off by his video titles; I think he's trying to catch readers' attention. If you like what you hear, subscribe (for free) and like his videos. That helps to ensure his videos appear on more YouTube watchers' screens. And tell your friends. (Warning: occasional strong language.)
On a recent podcast, Cohen interviewed Fred Guttenberg, the father of a girl killed in the mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school. Guttenberg is now an activist for gun reform in the U.S. and his thoughts and advice are moving and empowering. He explains why it's important to vote at every level for every public office, and what the stakes are.
You don't have to live in the United States to subscribe or give videos a "like", but those actions can help drive the algorithm that suggests videos for YouTube watchers, including Americans.
That's my public service announcement for today . . . which is Canada Day in my country. It's not just a day for me to write about parades and fireworks and strawberry shortcake to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of Canada; it's also a day to reflect on how lucky I am to live in a democracy and also how fragile democracy is and what I can do to help make sure it survives.
Oh, Canada! I stand on guard for thee. (from our national anthem)
Or at least I try.