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Different levels of contribution

I have seen and experienced what a lack of voting and community involvement can do

By Matthew Garringer | Contributor

Photograph by Halie Owens

Photograph by Halie Owens

Voting is important; it is a civic duty all citizens should strive to fulfill. As the saying goes, “Vote early and often.” Voting is also a right; it has taken a long time for America to achieve the voting rights we have, and it is a right entailed to all citizens of the U.S. As Christians, we are told we need to vote and are usually told whom to vote for as well. One would have to be blind and deaf not to see and hear the various pastors and Christian leaders telling fellow Christians which candidate to choose. Phrases like “the lesser of two evils” or “greater good” have been thrown around a lot during this election season.

I don’t really want to talk about whom I think Christians should vote for; this just causes way too many arguments, and we’ve already read positions on each of the candidates in a previous edition of this newspaper. No, I want this article to be about the nature of voting itself and its implications on the concept of “civic duty.”

As I just said, voting is a civic duty; one of the most basic civic duties. Voting should be expected of citizens, just as citizens are expected to pay taxes or serve on juries if and when it is required. This is why it is so important for everyone to have an equal right and equal access to their vote. Voting is such a basic, fundamental part of our society that the notion of citizens not being able to vote based on some inherent trait about them is ridiculous. If we do not vote, we have no society.

Yet should we be satisfied with our role in society if we merely pay taxes and vote? I do not think so. While voting is extremely important, it is one of the lesser things we can do for society. What real contribution are we making if we only let our voices be heard? Shouldn’t we also strive to make our voices heard and our actions seen and felt?

I would argue that a Christian who votes for the “wrong candidate” yet actively seeks to benefit his or her community by volunteering or supporting community functions shows faith better and contributes to society more than a Christian who votes for the “right candidate” yet does nothing else for their community.

Growing up in Muncie, a city just 25 miles south of here, I have seen and experienced what a lack of voting and community involvement can do. My community voted down a referendum that would have funded buses (as in school buses, the vehicles that transport students to school, which is pretty vital to the educational process) due to a mass misinformation campaign and a less than 16 percent voter turnout. I played football for Muncie Central in front of small crowds and saw a general apathy toward my school from many people. Muncie has declined largely from industry and factories leaving the area, but it has also deteriorated from people not caring about and contributing to the community they live in. Some are making concentrated efforts to improve the city I grew up in, and those workers deserve praise, but these are the efforts of a few people, not many.

If you really want to “Make America Great Again,” clean up a park, volunteer or support the local school. Don’t just be angry and vote. Don’t just expect the person you vote for to fix the problems in society that are in your backyard. Go out and do something. Try to improve the lives of others. Be the salt and light our communities need.

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