Yesterday, after a seemingly endless campaign, we had a Federal election. I stood for 10 hours at the gates of Ipswich East Primary School smiling, listening to people, responding and distributing how to vote cards for the Greens. At different times my daughters and a sister joined me, I was so proud of us all.
If you have never done anything like this I would so highly recommend it. Why?
- You meet local people and really hear what is impacting them, what they are concerned about, what moves them to vote one way or another. I feel especially connected to the community on these days. When this connection translates to a green vote I feel great and I also enjoy talking to people who have no intention of ever voting green.
- You meet volunteers from other parties and hear about their interests and passions and also how the various parties are working to make a difference in the local area. I find this heartening and inspiring.
- You meet local politicians and watch them interact with people, see how they respond to compliments and criticism and everything in between. Most are fabulous models of warmth, grace and gentle humour, qualities I would like to imbue more in my everyday practice of nonviolence.
I also enjoy the camaraderie between volunteers. When I needed a bathroom break, the Liberal (right) volunteer had the doors opened for me and while we were gone the Labor (left) person handed out our cards. Labor always provides sandwiches to all volunteers (thank goodness) and I helped the Liberal volunteer remove his signage in the evening as his arthritis didn’t allow him to manage this.
The only disheartening aspect of the day was the number of people who turn up and claim that ‘they [the parties] are all full of shit,’ ‘my vote doesn’t count,’ ‘I don’t believe in this,’ and the like. I am wondering why so many people feel disenfranchised by the process and what we could do to spread a more hopeful attitude (if not enthusiasm!) I would just love to say:
Don’t waste your vote! you do count, this is your chance to stand for something that is important to you. Please choose something and go vote for it!