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Becoming A Responsible Citizen

(Note: This post was written by Laurel Regan (pen name Dawn Storey) and originally published in Windsor Square on February 21, 2012.)

I‘m rather ashamed, today, to admit that for the first thirty-some years of my life, I proudly wore the label of “apolitical.” Apart from a sweeping and flippant belief that one had to be either a liar or a crook (or perhaps both) to become a politician, I quite firmly had zero involvement in politics. I wasn’t the slightest bit interested and took no sides when it came to political parties or platforms, and I kept myself deliberately and happily uninformed about what was going on in the political realm.

Then came 9/11.

Like many of you, I’m sure, I was glued to the TV for days on end, horrified and fascinated by the unfolding events and developing story that played repeatedly across the screen, day and night, no matter which channel you happened to be watching at the time. It was impossible to avoid.

But somehow, as I followed the coverage of the 9/11 tragedy, I quite unexpectedly found myself getting slowly drawn in to US politics. It was subtle at first… the repetition of the 9/11 newscasts meant that I started to recognize and get to know names and faces of the main political players, but then, when other stories began to take centre stage, it turned out that I even was able to identify them outside of the 9/11 context.

The years passed, and strangely enough my interest in US politics and current events grew. I discovered a new favourite network and a couple of dynamic political pundits and watched faithfully every day, absorbing everything I could possibly learn. I found myself watching such things as the State of the Union address and campaign speeches, and was surprised to find that I was able to talk at least somewhat intelligently about current events (well, current US events at least!). I even, on occasion, tuned in to C-SPAN (seriously!) to watch key decisions play out in Congress, all the while Tweeting up a storm with like-minded online contacts.

I was hooked. Somehow, despite a lifetime of effort to remain apolitical, I’d become a politics junkie.

What, you might ask, does any this have to do with Windsor?


Image courtesy of JasonParis on Flickr

I share this because thinking back has helped me to realize just why I’ve been somewhat tentative about delving into Windsor politics.

See, back when I was apolitical, ignorance was bliss. I’m not saying it was a responsible way to live (it was not), but it was certainly comfortable! When you don’t know what’s going on in the world around you, you don’t have to get angry or upset about it. When you don’t see injustice, you don’t feel compelled to say or do something about it. When you have chosen to close your eyes to the political realm, you don’t need to make any effort to keep yourself informed and involved.

It’s a whole lot easier, that’s for sure.

But when you start getting drawn in to the issues… when you begin to educate yourself and develop an awareness of what’s happening around you… when you form opinions and take stands… well, there’s no going back.

When you know something, it’s very difficult (if not impossible) to “un-know” it. And while I realize now that being informed and getting involved is the responsibility of all citizens, doing so opens you up to disillusionment and not-so-beautiful glimpses into human nature.

I guess that’s what’s held me back, so far, from taking those first steps and jumping in to Windsor politics, despite a persistent and nagging interest in digging a little deeper. I am so happy here, grateful to have been able to make this life change, and excited about my future in the city – and I think that perhaps a part of my brain is reminding me that as soon as I start learning more about what’s going on backstage, I won’t be able to “un-know” the things I find.

I realize that ignorance isn’t bliss – not really – but maybe I’m trying to hang on to my rose-coloured glasses for just a little bit longer.

I’ll become a responsible Windsorite soon, I promise.

Laurel Storey, CZT – Certified Zentangle Teacher. Writer, reader, tangler, iPhoneographer, cat herder, learner of French and Italian, crocheter, needle felter, on-and-off politics junkie, 80s music trivia freak, ongoing work in progress.