Monday, November 5, 2012

You are not helpless!

So tomorrow is Election Day in the U.S.  (Don't run!) Sven and I are of the opinion that if voting really could change anything, it'd be illegal.  That being said, we still do it.  In California there is direct voting on propositions, and I feel very strongly about some of them.

While the concept of "civic duty" would not be recognized by the pre-Christian Norse per se, there was still a premium placed on being engaged in the politics around you.  The annual Icelandic Thing was a combination courthouse, election site and the place where all disputes that occurred during the past year would be addressed.

Overall, what was promoted at the Thing was that justice and right prevail.  This being a culture formed of humans this was not always the case, but at least attempts were made.  Participating in the Thing was a standard duty of adult male Icelanders, but as it was only once a year it couldn't be the only societal task carried out.  The Norse were independent and territorial, but they were not isolationist amongst themselves.

In the modern era, voting may be the lowest common denominator of participation in society, but it should never be the only one.  That would be like making brushing one's teeth the only activity related to one's hygiene.  Furthermore, it's easy to get a sense of frustration right now related to a perception of the two major parties as being fundamentally alike or corrupt.

Remember you're not only a citizen of your country but of the planet.  You might not be able to really influence the government around you, although if making a run at local government is something you can do, consider it.

See what you can do to improve your area.  Cleaning up beaches and greenspaces shouldn't just be for hippies and Wiccans; as I wrote in a previous column, Thor is son of Odin and the Earth.  If we claim to be devoted to Thor and/or Odin it behooves us to treat the earth well.

Does something seem unjust to you?  Study up on the subject and be present as a voice about what the issue actually is, rather than what you have been told or "heard somewhere".  Familiarize yourself with city, county and state laws.  I'm always astounded at how many Californians think that because they've lived with their partner for X number of years that they are "common law" spouses.  (California is not a common law state.)  Not bothering to know this doesn't speak well for them as partners or Californians.

Passivity is not for Asatru.  "You are your deeds" is a challenge as well as a creed.  The fact that there is no concrete "afterlife" in the lore shows that how one lives is a more important question than "how one will spend eternity" as some Christian literature says.

So get out and vote (and consider supporting the third parties if you're undecided or unimpressed by the two main candidates).  Ultimately, who wins isn't going to have as much impact on your life as you do.

And that's the motivational speech of the day.

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