This is the year to plan to join something and get involved.

With inflation, student loans, paying the bills, climate change, police violence and so many other problems we face, there is a tendency to feel helpless and complain that elected leaders are not responsive to our needs. But there is something we can do. Even in a small way, we can grab the reins and take control, and make a difference in our community.

People tend to look for leadership elsewhere, when they themselves may very well be the leadership they are looking for. It’s so simple, yet so profound. What it means is that people should not consider themselves as armchair spectators in society, but rather as active participants and change agents. If you don’t get it done, who will?

Here is a term to focus on for a minute: civic engagement. Civic engagement has been defined as “individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern.” Another definition is “working to make a difference in the civic life of one’s community and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes.” And according to the New York Times, civic engagement is “working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes.”

Civic engagement can involve many things such as involvement in an organization, volunteer work or paid political activism, participation in the electoral process, or working with other people in the community on a cause or initiative. The common thread tying it all together is a sense that folks with a sense of civic and moral responsibility view themselves as part of a larger social fabric. Taking ownership of society’s problems, they may take action when appropriate, and become change agents in the process.

Consider the activism of young people around the protests against the murder of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in 2020, or those who organize to end gun violence in their communities. Consider people who demand environmental justice in Black communities who suffer more from climate change and pollution, or women who are fighting for the right of low-income women to have safe reproductive healthcare. Black Lives Matter started with a few sisters and a social media hashtag, and the rest is history.

Communities with more civic participation have a greater sense of community with happier people and fewer problems. Young people who are engaged in activism, volunteering and voting experience better mental health, higher incomes and higher education achievement. Studies have shown that adults who are civically engaged enjoy better personal relationships and higher self-esteem, less depression and illness, and longer lifespans. For example, elders who are community volunteers have a 40-50 percent drop in mortality compared to those who are not serving their community.

Join or support an organization that is trying to change things, or form your own group. Run for the school board. Help register people to vote. Make phone calls or start a letter writing campaign to elected officials. Mentor students and show them the way. Being engaged with the community and finding leadership within ourselves, we create a society that looks the way we want it to be, and we heal ourselves in the process.

David A. Love, JD - Serves

BlackCommentator.com as Executive

Editor. He is a journalist, commentator,

human rights advocate, a Professor at

the Rutgers University School of

Communication and Information based in

Philadelphia, a contributor to Four

Hundred Souls: A Community History of

African America, 1619-2019, The

Washington Post, theGrio,

AtlantaBlackStar, The Progressive,

CNN.com, Morpheus, NewsWorks and

The Huffington Post. He also blogs at

davidalove.com. Contact Mr. Love and


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