Every time there is an election my work colleagues complain that they have to vote (voting being compulsory in Australia). “What’s the point of me voting? My vote is not going to make a difference.” Then my mother’s voice goes off in my head “Suffragettes made so many sacrifices so we can vote.” Visions of Africans with their hands chopped off to prevent them from voting come to mind as do the struggles of women in the Middle East. Emotions dwell up in me and I am on the attack. “We are so lucky to live in a democracy. You should cherish your freedom. Everyone can make a difference.” “Prove it. Martin Luther King, Sister Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Adolf Hitler, Nelson Mandela – what more proof do you need!”
Although we cannot all be ‘significant’ movers and shakers in history, our voice is important and can be heard and heard loudly. We can vote Governments in or out and with minority parties holding the balance of power every vote is crucial. We can influence policy through putting pressure on politicians via emails and letters, protest rallies, media correspondence (letters to editors, talk back radio, TV presentations), YouTube, Facebook, joining political parties or lobby groups. In the words of Paul Kelly “from little things big things grow” The death of Mohammed Bouazizi was the catalyst to the Arab Spring. Who could predict that the death of a street vendor would lead to the downfall of many Middle Eastern governments?
To those not interested in politics I say to you start to care. Politics affect every aspect of our lives from the price of petrol, food, health care and education to our rights for abortions, marriage, childcare, a safe workplace and a safety net when we’re unemployed, elderly or frail. If we don’t take an interest, if we don’t keep checks and balances on governments, then our human rights will be suppressed and we are leaving the door open for a tyrant to rule.
We should never take our right to vote for granted and we should not disenfranchise ourselves through apathy. Instead we should be grateful that we are citizens of the free world, and out of respect for others not so lucky, we should exercise and embrace our right to vote and be heard.
Recent Amanda Makrides Articles:
- Cut Waste, Save the World. Part 1: Fridge Audit
- Blow the Whistle
- Watching The Clock
- What the World Needs Now
- If It’s Too Good To Be True…