You Matter

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.

Blog Challenge, Day 5: Still hanging in there.

Technically, it’s after midnight, which makes this day 6. Since my kids have only been in bed about 30 minutes, and since it’s still Oct. 5 on the west coast, I’m calling this day 5’s post. Yes, I skipped day 4. Shame on me, and shame on you for letting me get away with it!

What this experience has taught me so far is that it’s extremely hard to schedule blogging (at least for me). I had a great idea for a post yesterday (well, the 4th), but I was busy and since previously I had written around 10 I put it off instead of making time for it. We see how well that worked out. I’ll have to be more flexible if I’m to post often.

I suppose that’s why I was advised by another blogger when I started to write that I should write more than one post at a time so as to have reserves when I’m too tired or busy to ‘blog from scratch’ (so to speak). That’s good advice for regular blogging, but as this is a month-long daily challenge I feel it’s a bit unfair to employ this method for the time being, though I can’t claim to have successfully employed it as yet.

I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to ‘write ahead’. I suppose the ideas feel stale when left as a draft. I like that there are always new happenings, new ideas to ponder, new things to write about. I suppose it has to do with my attention span, or maybe it’s just my nature to be curious and inquisitive. Both, perhaps. The problem with news is that it generally has a short shelf life. That’s one reason why I decided to do a daily blog challenge. I was tripping myself up, obsessing over what to write, letting the issue grow until I couldn’t put it into words. I would sit down to write and get lost in research.

So daily blogging seemed like a good idea, to get myself comfortable with the process and to understand that it won’t be perfect. It can’t be perfect. Another veteran writer whom I admire approved of the idea and encouraged me. I’m very grateful and blessed to have the support that I do.

The last bit of advice I was given concerning writing/blogging from my ‘boss’ over at Misfit Politics (www.misfitpolitics.co) was to read Shakespeare. If you’re working with words it can’t hurt to read a famous wordsmith, of course. This seems like good advice, especially given that I like a sort of cadence when I write. It also got me thinking that I should read more just for fun. It’s not that I don’t enjoy everything I read – I refuse to suffer through a lot of nonsense – but my choices lately have been more informative than purely pleasure reads. I should remind myself why I fell in love with words.

So that is a summary of my challenge so far, and the advice I’ve been given and am attempting to take and put into practice. If you’d like to add any advice of your own, feel free to comment!