Why I Vote

I didn’t always vote.

For most of my life, I held strong religious convictions that precluded voting.  My faith community and I took Jesus’ words that his kingdom was “no part of this world” as a literal command to live for the future, to keep separate.  My beliefs have evolved in recent years, and I’ve been playing catch-up in matters of politics, which were once very off-limits. Where I once felt a commitment a small group of people and a far-off future, now my focus has broadened to include an appreciation for the whole human family and the present we share.

Now I’m getting ready to cast my very first ballot for president. I can’t tell you how happy I am to have this say.  I’ve spent months reading up on the candidates for everything from the presidency to the local school board election.  I’ve listened to candidates and supporters speak about their positions, read editorials, and followed various news sources.  Some of the decisions were easy; some were much more difficult.

Frankly, it’s hard to feel like I have enough information to choose in some of these cases.  I suppose I could continue abstaining with the knowledge that there is no perfect candidate or that my vote might not make a big difference.  But it’s more than that.  This is my country, my state, my city, my school district.  This is my chance to say I am a part of that.

My vote is about more than any of the names on the ballot.  It means I am living fully in the present and participating in creating a future for all of us.

Read more #blogthevote stories from kidlit bloggers at Chasing Ray.  Please share your reasons for voting with your network.

I love blogs, and I love loving blogs

I love blogs.  Perhaps that seems obvious since this is a blog.  I also love Facebook.  And Twitter.

I didn’t always love blogs.  When a group of my friends and acquaintances started keeping Livejournal blogs circa 1999-2000, I scoffed.  Why would they want to share their “journal” with anyone?  I didn’t get it.  It wasn’t long before I was swept up in it myself.  I’d always loved writing, and here was a chance for me to write, receive feedback, and engage with people I might not otherwise know.  Soon I was seeking out blogs and communities on Livejournal and beyond.  Most of my old friends have long since forgotten the blogging craze, but I’m still here.  Why?

Cognitive SurplusPart of the answer lies in Clay Shirky’s new book, Cognitive Surplus.  He writes of creativity, sharing, and connectivity in an age of technology.  The Internet/social media has brought amazing opportunity that, coupled with the surplus of time and energy that many of us have, has resulted in projects like Wikipedia, PickupPal, and many others.  We are no longer consumers.  We are producers, collaborators, citizens.

I love this.  I loved Cognitive Surplus.  Perhaps that seems obvious since I’m a blogger, zinester, and lover of indie music.  I love the “publish” button.  I love the “like” button.  I love the opportunity to be a part of something greater than myself.  Shirky writes,

The range of opportunities we can create for one another is so large, and so different from what life, until recently, was like, that no one person or group and no one set of rules or guides can describe all the possible cases.  The single greatest predictor of how much value we get out of our congitive surplus is how much we allow and encourage one another to experiment, because the only group that can try everything is everybody.

Life is good, people.  Let’s do something.