Why I grew up not talking about politics
My father instructed us against talking about politics or religion or expressing any disagreement about the government.
Growing up in Iraq shaped my perspective on civic engagement. Not talking about politics was a must to avoid any trouble with the government. But the term “civic engagement” and realizing the importance of using my voice made me think about my role in the community and whether I am a participant or a beneficiary.
I have to admit that I have a long way to go before I can break free from the habits of long years under the oppression of a cruel regime, but I am working towards becoming more engaged.
What is civic engagement?
Civic engagement is doing activities that help the public. In other words, civic engagement is advocating on behalf of the public. Here are some ways one can become civically engaged:
- Exercising your right to vote
Your voice and vote matter; participating in the local, state, and federal elections are essential and can make a difference in the outcomes. It can impact taxes, healthcare, schooling, and other topics that are important to you. Officials at all levels take the desires of the voters seriously and by voting the right people in, you are making your voice heard.
Intentional volunteering can be a life-changer for many of us, and the impacts of volunteering can reach far beyond personal satisfaction. Through volunteering, you can make new community connections, learn new skills, and become more connected to good causes that are important to your community.
- Expressing your opinion
As a member of the community, you can show your opinion by signing a petition, calling your representatives, participating in school board meetings, etc. We are currently living in an uncommon political environment, and we are seeing some significant changes happening on the different levels so voicing your agreement or disagreement is critical.
- Obeying the law
The last thing anyone of us wants is to get in trouble with the law intentionally or due to lack of knowledge. Being respectful of law enforcement, paying your fair share of taxes, providing accurate information on your tax forms and other forms, not engaging in illegal activities, and knowing your rights and responsibilities are your way of being a useful member of this community.
In the end, it is our role to promote the quality of life in our communities. Being civically engaged means using your knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm to sponsor a positive change in your community.