Speak (Act) Now or Forever Hold Your Peace
Refusal to participate does not solve all of life's problems. Life always moves forward; your participation is not necessary. If you do nothing, don't complain when life happens without you or when life happens to you.
In this game of life, things are going to happen, with or without you. Life is always moving forward, never backwards. There is no pause button, there is no restart. If you don't like the game, you don't get to try another one; you have to live this life and figure out how to make it work. That doesn't mean, however, that you have no choices. Every game has choices. You need to roll some dice, you need to move, you need to make decisions, you need to strategize. If you want to win the game, you have to play. If you sit there and do nothing, all the other players in the game will keep going without you, some one else will win, and you will definitely lose.
Now, don't get defensive. I'm not saying you have to play the game. If you reach a point in the game where you don't want to move forward, then don't. You can choose to do nothing. But don't be mad when another player does something that causes your piece to be moved back. Don't be mad when the rest of the players are having a blast enjoying life and you're still stuck in stage one. Don't be mad when you lose. Because if you don't do your due diligence, you waive your right to complain.
We live in a world where we sue when we get hurt and we boycott when we get mad. But that doesn't always solve the problem. Be advised, doing nothing because things aren't going your way is about as mature as throwing a temper tantrum in the store because your mom won't buy you a candy bar, and as effective as drying off with a wet towel. If you don't like the fact that a clothing company gets their shirts made in Indonesia with child labor, then boycotting can be effective. The company heads will notice a void in their wallets and will be forced to make changes to appease their customers to fill that void. I call this "Strategic Abstinence". By contrast, boycotting something out of stubbornness is rarely useful. Withholding your participation without thinking through the effects is just wasted effort. I call this "Foolishness".
What do I mean? I'm glad you asked. Let's say you're feeling upset about the crime in your area. So, instead of being proactive to ensure your own protection, you refuse to participate in ways that'll protect yourself. You refuse to lock your doors and windows. You leave your blinds open so any passerby can see your big screen TV. You rationalize this by saying "People shouldn't be doing crime anyway. Why should I have to do anything extra because other people suck?" Fine, that's absolutely your right. But when your home gets broken into and you lose all your valuable possessions, don't come crying to me. "Yeah," I'll remark, "That sucks. But it could have easily been prevented if you did your part. Maybe now you'll learn." Now if you had done your due diligence by, at a minimum, locking your doors and windows and closing your blinds, then I will take pity on you. "Oh no," I'll lament, "That's horrible! And since your door was locked, they broke the window? They took everything? Here, let me help you out." Why the drastic change of heart? Because you did your part. If you don't do your due diligence, you waive your right to complain.
What if someone wants to fight you but you don't want to fight them back? Are you going to stubbornly refuse to fight while they wail on you? No! You'll do your due diligence and protect yourself or fight back. Even if you don't win, people will still be willing to hear your sob story if you went down swinging. If you went down with your arms crossed, they'll just laugh at you. "Why didn't you fight back," they'll ask. I assure you, "Because I didn't want to" is not an acceptable answer. If you don't do your due diligence, you waive your right to complain.
Maybe you like lounging around in your house all weekend in your pajamas, hair all mussed up, teeth all gunky and funky. Your friends call to see if you want to catch a movie. It starts in 15 minutes and you can catch it if you leave now. But you're not ready; it'll take you at least an hour to get yourself together. Oh well. Your friends just go without you. Don't whine about having no one to watch movies with or everyone having fun without you if you didn't make yourself available. If you don't do your due diligence, you waive your right to complain.
Let's say, hypothetically of course, that you don't like the two primary presidential candidates. In your obstinateness, you decide to abstain from voting. Fine, that's your right. Some people only have the right to vote because of battles fought on their behalf; but it's your right to vote or not to. But don't gripe for four or eight years when you don't like who the president is, when the country goes bankrupt, when we enter World War III, or when half the population ends up in concentration camps or deported. Don't talk people's ears off about how everything went wrong the moment So-and-So got elected. If you don't use your voice to vote and effect change, then don't use your voice to complain. If you don't do your due diligence, you waive your right to complain.
Not voting is probably the dumbest "solution" I've ever heard to our farce of a presidential race. Do you know why it's a dumb solution? Because it doesn't solve anything! I've done the math - a grand total of ZERO problems will be solved by voter abstinence. Nobody really cares if you don't vote - not anyone that matters anyway. Big corporate is probably banking on the average middle-class citizen NOT voting. You aren't hurting anyone by avoiding the polls on November 7th - well, not anyone who will make changes on your behalf. You only hurt yourself. Voter abstinence is as dumb as not locking your doors in crime-ridden areas or refusing to fight while being pummeled. You don't want Trump or Hillary? Then do your homework and vote 3rd party. Stein and Johnson are both garnering a lot of steam this year, and this year might be the best chance a 3rd party has of winning. If you don't want to vote, that's OK. But nobody wants to hear you complain about the election results if you don't.
If you think voter abstinence sends some kind of useful message, you're sadly mistaken. All it does is leave the results in everyone else's hands. You know who bends over backwards to vote? Zealots. Extremists. The very people that you need to temper to make sure they don't determine the future of our country. If you sit idly by and let everyone else make all the decisions, then you don't have any room to complain about the outcome. You want to send a message? You want to show the world that you care about the future of your country? Then vote. Research and be an INFORMED voter. Someone's going to end up president even if there's only 12 people that show up to the polls. It's not as if some people not voting will put the whole election on hold while all parties come up with new contenders. We will end up with a new president, with or without your vote. Your vote could help determine who that president will be... unless you really just don't care whose hands we leave our country in - in which case doing nothing makes sense. If you don't do your due diligence, you waive your right to complain.
We live in a world where many people, sadly, are under the misunderstanding that inaction is a form of effective protest. Inaction is literally doing NOTHING, and a protest is doing SOMETHING to garner attention to your cause - they are not the same. You can't take pride in your actions if you don't actually take any action.