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Don't Just Sit There Because The Election's Over

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Anti-Trump Post-Its adorn the walls of Union Square Subway Station in New York City. (Photo: Stephen Trupp/STAR MAX/IPx)

We're all guilty of it, no matter where we live, Americans and Canadians alike. We're passive participants. Once we cast our votes, that's it. We're done until the next election.

When we're unhappy with the outcome, when our elected officials piss us off, when they take our support for granted, we complain to our spouses, our children, our parents, our siblings, our friends, colleagues and neighbours. We bitch to the plumber who's repairing the toilet. But do we let our politicians know? Do we speak our minds? Get involved?

No, we do not. We sit on our butts and fume silently. Do nothing. Sometimes, horror of horrors, we even vote for them again.

At least that's been the case.

But that's starting to change thanks to Donald Trump.

While I can hardly believe I'm saying this, because of what I'm seeing, reading and hearing, I'm beginning to think something good can come out of the Trump catastrophe. Americans are rising to the challenge, they're asking themselves what they can do, how they can make a difference, how they can become a force for change. How they can secure their own futures.

I see it on the ever-growing wall of Post-It note messages at the Union Square subway station in New York. There are thousands upon thousands of them, and a thrilling sight it is. What's more, in response to Mike Pence's desire to defund Planned Parenthood, tens of thousands of Americans are making donations -- in his name.

I see it on this video that went viral in minutes (and unleashed a firestorm of tweets from Donald Trump) -- when the cast of the Broadway hit, Hamilton, ended the show with a message for vice president-elect Mike Pence, who was in the audience.

If you're sitting there in your comfy armchair, complacent as hell, thinking we live in a Utopia here, think again.

I see it on social media, in status updates and tweets. Several of my U.S. WordPress blogging buddies are mobilizing themselves. They're writing and calling their congressmen, voicing their opinions, sharing their fears and concerns; and they're not alone, congressional phones are being flooded.

Americans are prioritizing the issues that are most important to them, deciding how best they can be part of the solution. For some, it's giving financial support. Others are opting to get involved in their communities, giving of their time instead of money.

It doesn't matter. What matters is that we participate, all of us, Canadians included ...

So, if you're sitting there in your comfy armchair, complacent as hell, thinking we live in a Utopia here, think again. I hate to burst your bubble, but we don't -- at least according to a lot of Canadians who've been commenting on some of my blog posts and tweets, and also on articles written by others.

Frankly, they're not necessarily wrong. There are a lot of much-needed, long-over-due changes needed in our country as well.

So we also need to stand up and be counted. We also need to raise our voices. We also need to find a cause or an issue or a problem or an injustice or a group being underserved and pitch in, do our part to improve our own lives and the lives of fellow Canadians.

A friend of mine told me, just the other day, how she joined her neighbourhood parks committee several years ago when the city abandoned parks because of rising costs, budget crunches and amalgamation.

Their efforts were rewarded when the city took notice of what they were doing, and asking of them, and started pruning trees and planting new ones, increasing the urban forest diversity of age and species -- and guess what. Their little park is now in great shape, and it's enjoyed by everyone in the neighbourhood.

Mouthy as I am, I've never hesitated to write our politicians, whether they represent the city, the province or the country. I sign petitions. I blog about my concerns and frustrations. But I can do more.

We all must.

We have to act "preventatively." Become active before they pass bills and laws that will affect us adversely. Once it's done, it's done. When we stay silent, when we do nothing, we send a message to our political leaders that everything is just fine and dandy. Even if we believe otherwise.

That has to change. We need to let them know that they work for us, goddamnit. It's our tax dollars that pay their salaries. We put them in that office and we can remove them just as easily.

And if you consider what recently happened in the U.K. with Brexit, and now in the U.S. our politicians would be well-advised to start paying attention to frustrated and irate citizens -- before we have a revolution here.

First, though, we have to speak up.

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