My resolution for the new year is to be more engaged in the community.
I spend too much time thinking about the way the world should be and what governments and people should be doing. War, famine, discrimination, and climate change are issues where I think "people should..." or "government should..."
I need to think more about what I should do. Community engagement is a highly impactful way I can advocate for others.
Thinking back to my one instance when I volunteered for a 17-hour shift as an election inspector on November 6, 2018 during the midterm elections, I met many people--the sort I never interact with on a regular basis.
I met Jerry, a 50-something, raunchy-joking, staunchly Republican site chair and his two staunchly Democratic sons. I met a kind and soft-spoken Democrat, Merri-Lou, who's grown up her entire life in upstate New York.
I tabled with a Republican, Obama-bashing John, a caricature of a man. He was a funeral director in suit, kept making jokes regarding a Bosnian waitress that would make my generation aghast, but buys each niece and nephew a car when they turn 18. He also volunteers as an emergency responder, sharing a strong faith in medicine after losing a sister and wife passed away from breast cancer.
I met a bitter Seneca Indian chief with gray mullet and beard named Two Guns. He was a free-range, wild Native up until at 13. His mother forced him to assimilate to society, which was marked by a traumatic experience to the barber's (where he nearly slit the barber's throat because hair is considered sacred in Native American culture). Upon entering American society, he mastered English in two years, entered college at 16, and learned to code in 12 languages several decades ago. But you get the sense that he missed a train because he struggles as freelance developer for only $40/hour.
I met two security guards. The first, Dave, was a kind and wirey man that wanted to help poll workers pass the time by small talk. The second, Richard, was a large bouncer-looking man, who, to my surprise, had a degree in electrical engineering, but following the lay-offs of his old employer, Xerox, spent the rest of his life anchored to taking care of his mom and working odd jobs. A self-described intellectual with a rather odd and oddly large following on Facebook, also had stints in abroad inventing his own products.
As a highly-educated and well-traveled young student, I realized that I'm not as multicultural as I claim to be. I spend way too much time being upset at things like racial representation, white colonialism, microaggressions, cultural appropriation, getting mad at "everyone else" for ignorantly committing these transgressions. I've ignored that there are some people that literally lived in their own bubbles, completely separate from metropolitan culture and in service to their own, their whole lives, through no fault of theirs, but by circumstance.
I think community engagement is the best course of action because it can serve as a confluence of ideas between a variety of demographics to the benefit of all.