What is your value?
What is your purpose?
What sets you apart?
These questions enter the minds of most people during their lives and cause them to introspect and take stock of their goals in life. Everyone will answer the questions differently because no one has the same life experience, the same advantages, or the same ambition.
The same questions are asked by political junkies, but it’s less introspection and more general critique of one another. I’ve seen this especially in the conservative political set; we all seem to be measuring one another’s effectiveness by different standards.
There is the activist that believes true effectiveness is “boots on the ground”: knocking on doors, making calls, writing letters. The blogger believes in the advancement of ideas through media; making the case to support a cause or policy with thoughtful, well-researched articles. There is the pontificator that thinks gaining ground happens in the real-time free flow of ideas online and in person, the media maven who believes videos will reach more people in our entertainment-loving society, and the quiet soul that wishes only to stand in solidarity with his conservative brother and strengthen one another’s convictions and arguments so that they can better defend their positions.
So who is most valuable? Which one of those subgroups have more impact or purpose in the conservative movement?
According to many, I’m pretty useless as a political tool in the conservative shed. I haven’t worked on a campaign staff, I don’t knock on doors or make calls, and I rarely even blog. What value do I have? I don’t question my own value, but I know many people do. They may not know they’re talking about me because they’re usually speaking in very broad terms about another group of people that they feel aren’t doing as much as they themselves are, at least according to their own standards of effectiveness.
I don’t have to wonder if I’m making a difference because I know that I am. My life has pretty well been dedicated to my kids. I gave up many of my own ambitions to focus on being a mother. I have been blessed to explain current events and politics to my children in a way that they can understand and engage their minds in a topic that, quite frankly, not many adults can comprehend. I know that I have a duty to inform them so that when they are able to vote they can do so with some measure of understanding, giving serious thought to the gravity of their choices. I also want them to be able to make a compelling argument to their peers and be able to defend their positions to their teachers. We often talk about the heavily biased education our kids receive from public schools and universities, so I’m actively preparing my children to go out into a world that is not friendly to their ideas and to engage that world and hopefully change it.
Does that have no value?
I have changed minds about gun control and abortion through simple conversation. I’ve encouraged other conservatives by being bold enough to shout down the bullies. I’ve strengthened my friends’ arguments just as they’ve strengthened mine through discussion of ideas and the sharing of information. I know this because people have told me that I’ve made a difference in their lives.
Does my chatter have no purpose?
I don’t have to wonder if my small efforts within the arena of politics have value. I know they do. They may not be big, or public, or acknowledged, but they have gained us ground and have strengthened us as a group. Do I think I’m better than any other blogger or activist? No. We’re all working for a common goal here, or should be, so I’m happy to let you do what you do best while I make small improvements in the world around me. Your efforts help me, just as my efforts help you. If I can change a person’s mind, that’s another reader for you. That’s possibly another person knocking on doors. That’s another person to have your back when you’re under attack for defending the Constitution.
So don’t lose heart when you wonder if you’re making a difference. If you are making a case for conservatism, in whatever form it takes, then you are making a difference. You are helping others find their voice, you are encouraging your conservative brothers, and you are getting the message out one small voice at a time. A multitude of small voices is more resounding than a single person yelling into the void.
You matter. You have value. No go be awesome.