I’m going to be blunt: There is a lot going on.

Millions are out of work and/or struggling to keep food on the table or a roof over their head; people are sick, over 200,000 have died; health care is on the brink of being taken away from millions of people who desperately need it.

We have lost a great and powerful icon in Ruth Bader Ginsburg and women’s and LGBTQ+ rights are now at risk; our environment continues to erode, the results of which have already cost hundreds of thousands their homes from fire or flood; and trust in the federal government – including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – is all but gone.

Hate, fear and division are the current cornerstones and the foundational pillars of our society. It’s a lot, almost too much to take. And the ever-growing pressures and constant barrage of the presidential election only serve to further our exhaustion.

The point is this: With the overwhelming chaos, most of us want to do the understandable – bury our heads in the sand, turn off our ears, look away. Ignore. These are natural responses to cope with an ever-changing reality. I’ve done it, too – for years now, in fact. Ridding ourselves of feeling powerless or upset is a lot easier when we stop paying attention, when we stop caring.

But just because we stop looking, it doesn’t mean that these things have gone away. If anything, they’re happening more often and more easily because we are choosing to accept that they are going to happen. But we can’t do that anymore, especially not right now. We owe it to each other, to ourselves, to pull our heads up, to pay attention, to listen, to see.

It’s not going to be easy. But nothing is ever going to change if we don’t step up and do something. And right now, that something is voting. I know that for many of you, you have given up on the institution of voting. It’s understandable. Many of us have tried to make our voice heard in the past and have been squashed, suppressed, ignored. We have made our voices, wants, needs clear, and had them ignored – even had them actively worked against.

It sucks, and it’s unfair, and I don’t blame you for giving up on even trying; I sometimes want to, too. But here’s the thing: At the end of the day, there’s still a difference between having your voice ignored and not using it at all. If you don’t speak out, if you don’t use your ability – your right – to voice your wants and your needs, then we’ve already lost. Yes, maybe they will ignore us, maybe our votes or what we vote for – what we so desperately want for our country and our society – won’t come to pass. But if we don’t even try … ? Only that is the most immediate and definite guarantee of failure.

So be bold, my friends. Put aside your frustrations and your exhaustions, your apathies and anxieties; they don’t serve you. Channel that energy – that fear, that anger, that pain – into focus. Channel it into something that will make change because nothing – truly nothing – will change unless we try. So please. Vote. Vote like your life depends on it because honestly … it does.

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