Sunday, October 28, 2012

Your Vote Doesn't Matter...So Go Vote!

For the people that have been on a strict No-Mainstream-Media diet for the past 8 months (which, from what I've heard, can actually lower blood pressure and actively fight depression), there's an election coming up in a couple weeks in the good ol' US of A. People are on edge about it. I know this for a fact because, since I installed a plugin that replaces all my friend's political posts on Facebook with pictures of cats, I've had a significantly cuter news feed.

This is what Democracy looks like
I'm in an interesting situation this election season as I'm part of the 3% of Americans that are not currently living in the USA. Throughout this entire election season, I've successfully avoided the slew of media campaigns and the poisoned rhetoric that has seemed to seep into our every day conversations. Rather, I get the residual "we need jobs" or "health insurance" debate topic that, living outside the USA, I have no real stake in. But, as per my patriotic duty, I voted via absentee ballot a couple weeks ago. I even got a free pizza out of the deal.

Now for my international audience reading: there's a common belief in American society that voting matters. Or, rather, that my vote matters. That's the beauty of Democracy, right? That each individual can have a voice and an influence on the way a country is going. People died for Democracy and the right to vote, so I must honor them by taking part in the Democratic process.

Well that's the Kool-aid of America that everyone's been drinking at least...and it's become a placebo in place of us actually tackling the problems that matter.

You see, every election season plays out basically the same way. The people that hate the party in power come out swinging, with the supporters of the party in power defending them with all the emotion and rhetoric that they can muster. People young and old draw lines in the sand and act like voting is a life or death situation.

I remember how young I was when I started noticing it. It was the 2004 election between John Kerry and President Bush. I was only a Sophomore in High School, so I couldn't vote at all. That didn't stop the majority of my class from getting involved, however. I remember groups of my friends dividing into tribes and mimicking the talking points you would hear on CNN. 15, you have no idea what outsourcing is or why a war in a far away country is being fought. Nothing is black and white.

Throughout that whole 2004 election season, I heard time and time again "if only I could vote. I could make a difference." I actually believed that one as well...up to the point where I actually did research on our Democratic process.

We are a Democratic Republic, not a true "democracy". Our Senators and Representatives are voted by the people, but the President and Vice President are appointed by 'electors'. The mass of electors make up the Electoral College, and these electors vote in December for the President of the United States of America. They are not bound by the popular vote, and can vote as they please. Often, however, the process is decided on election night as the candidate losing the popular vote often drops out as part of the 'show' that is our election process.

To sum it up? Your vote, in the grand scheme of this dog and pony show, does not matter. Who you choose and who you associate with has no significant impact on who ends up in the Oval Office.

Yet every 4 years, we as Americans gather together and vote for all the wrong reasons. We vote to fix all the problems we have. We think that casting a ballot is the way to pave a bright and prosperous future. That's our contribution to our country, and immediately afterwards we go back to looking at our bank accounts, counting possessions, and wondering how we can help ourselves in such a dire situation.

Do you see the problem yet? you see the promise every election holds, and we somehow miss it?

I have another number for you: 122,394,724. That's how many people voted in 2008. That's how many people wanted a say in our country and how many people wanted better for our country. That's an astounding number. Most of those people, however, went back to caring about themselves shortly after that historic election. They watched as the economy crashed around us and the first thing everyone did was blame the Government. It was their fault. Their greed that did this.

They are right to a degree...but the economy didn't create the negative atmosphere that we exist in today. It was us. It was our fault. Rather than working with one another and turning to things that mattered, we focused all our energy on finger pointing and talking about how our party could have done better. Once you start doing that, any obstacle becomes exponentially more impossible to overcome.

So my message to my fellow Americans this election season? Your vote doesn't matter...but you should vote anyways. Voting isn't a process as much as a symbol that, we as a country, still care about where we are going and our place in the world. The Americans that came before us didn't fight for the right to vote...they fought for freedom and our country. They fought for us as a people. When we let elections and parties divide us like they do now, we jeopardize everything our country stands for.

We are still one of the greatest countries to ever exist on the face of the Earth, and that is because we learned to work together as one people while maintaing the freedom to do as we sieze our own destiny. It's not too late for us. This election won't change our country. Barack Obama or Mitt Romney can't save us. That power still lies with us and will always lie with the people as long as our election process still exists.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October Updates

It's the end of September (beginning of October)! And you know what that means, right?

Well, I don't. I was suppose to announce something cool and awesome about my job and some things going on, but life has a way of throwing molasses in your gears and slows things down when you're just getting on a roll. This time around, they are delays outside my control that are stalling my next big adventure.

The silver lining in all of this is I get to focus on some side projects that I've been setting on the back burner for a while now. They needed some love and attention, and I've made strides in developing some cool ideas for the next round of films! These projects include:

1) Tackling human trafficking in Korea. Filming has started on this one, with a target completion date TBD. It's a collaborative effort with one of the largest churches in Korea, and it's been my privilege to work with them over the last 6 months.

2) Outlining a Southeast-Asia based humanitarian project focused on the repercussions of the Vietnam War

3) Outlining an around-the-world project exploring culture in a very creative (and, at the moment, secret) fashion. This is a long term project which guarantees many more adventures in the future.

4) Next steps on the "Roots of Happiness". We have had success in film festivals all through 2012 (take a look for yourself here), and are looking at the next steps in getting the support these kids deserve as well as what we're going to do next.

Keeping busy is tough these days. I feel tired and sluggish sometimes, which is a byproduct of the new job and getting re-acclimated to living in Korea again. I know, I know. It's not a good excuse for the lack of posts these days. I've neglected you a little bit, and I'm sorry about that. Just know that the adventure continues in a much bigger and grander fashion...more than anything I could imagine. It's just taking alot of preparation to get everything off the ground.
I did want to share with you a cool story about one of my boys from Kenya. He's in trade school right now, and he approached me and my father about starting a soccer program in his hometown. His hometown has a problem with drugs and kids getting into trouble because the boys don't have alot to do, and they're all too poor to afford a decent soccer ball and some gear.

He wrote up a proposal and everything outlining his program, and the Michezo Hope program was born. "Michezo" is Swahili for sports or games, and the idea is to give these boys the chance to play sports to keep active and out of trouble.

It's not a big program at the moment. Really, it's just one soccer ball that was purchased for these boys. But that one soccer ball is already making a huge difference. I am proud of my brother and friend in Kenya, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do with this program he created.

It doesn't take much to make a difference. We think that volunteering and making an impact in this world takes movers and shakers and a ton of money. The reality is it takes good ideas and a calculated application of resources to make it happen. All we need to do is, from time to time, set aside our beefs and politics that plague our society and listen to the needs of our fellow man. The world is inherently good, and a young man in Kenya and his soccer program is proof of that.