Finding Focus

For some time now, I’ve felt a desire to be more involved in some way with the community I live in. I’m not sure if that community is the street I live on, the city I’m in, the state I grew up in, or the entire country or world as a whole.

I’m fairly burnt out from this election cycle (which starts extremely early in Iowa), and quite disillusioned with how unprepared, mismanaged, and unbalanced the caucuses seemed. I’m ready for it to be over with, but that hasn’t made me care any less about the issues. There are so many things brought up to compare and contrast candidates through the primary/caucusing process, and then the months of the final few battling it out, it’s overwhelming. Frankly, there’s just too much to care about. It’s easy to feel defeated and hopeless when the candidate you most align with gets knocked out of the race.

What I have realized though, is trying to focus on so many different things pretty much guarantees that not much of anything will get done. So while I might feel strongly about many things, there’s simply just not enough time (or energy) to put into them all and be able to make any difference. This combined with social media “likes” and sharing articles, I think gives the false impression that we’re actually taking action when actually nothing gets done. It’s much like with my personal creative and professional goals, spending too much time thinking about what I want to do can give me the impression that I’ve actually done something. All the thought and planning in the world means nothing if there’s no action.

So that’s why I’ve decided I need to find a small handful of issues, or even just one, that I can focus on and work to make a difference. I’m not likely to get our country’s health care system to move to a single-payer system, so that one is out (although I think it’s inevitable). I’m not likely to have much influence on our country’s war policy, either. But I do see opportunity to make a difference in some more locally based issues.

Education and the environment are two things I’ve always cared quite a bit about, and more recently food and health. Especially as my son gets older and down the road starts into the school system, these are all things that will have a big impact on his life – and mine. Even just within these couple broad topics, there are many different specifics to focus on. Water quality has been a big issue springing up in Iowa lately. It effects us not only locally, but also downstream all the way to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. That in and of itself is a hugely complex issue.

So my first step?

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Making vegan muffins and cinnamon rolls. I believe a more plant-based diet will not only be healthier (not that starting with muffins and cinnamon rolls is healthy), but is also generally much better for the environment and reduces animal suffrage. Maybe next I can find time to go to a city planning meeting or find some way to volunteer my skills in a local project. I’m ready to stop being overwhelmed and disenfranchised, after all – you can’t “fight” the power if you’re not showing up to “fight”. In the words of the Jurassic 5, “… if you wanna fight the power, get the power to fight.” And for me, the power might start with just a muffin.

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