There are two topics they say you should avoid if you don’t want to offend people: Religion and politics. Well, I am not brave enough to openly dive into a religious discussion, but I will wade into politics, if only in the shallow end. Recently, I attended my seventh year of going to Washington DC with the National Fragile X Foundation and lobbying for some issues important to my family and others. I was hooked from the first time I went because it gives me a feeling of empowerment and allows my freedom of speech rights to be fully utilized. Speaking to members of congress and their staffers about important issues makes me feel like I am actually doing something instead of just complaining about “how broke our government is”.

I will be the first to say there are some major changes needed to our systems, but I will also point out that most people seldom do anything to try and help fix it. They simply complain. Politics like anything else is about relationships. It’s about talking and listening. It’s about sitting across the table from someone and sharing your concerns and listening to the other side. It’s about establishing empathy and understanding. It’s about dignity and respect.

Over the past seven years I have formed some pretty good relationships with some of the staffers and members of congress. I receive calls and e-mails related to my issues and am always able to call the members office and talk to someone about concerns. Do they always do and vote how I ask? Absolutely not. However, because of the relationship I understand why not. Though I may not always agree, I at least feel I have done my part to make a difference.

I write this to encourage you to get involved. There are plenty of issues out there I am sure you are concerned or passionate about. Make a phone call or send an e-mail to allow your voice to be heard. You don’t have to go to Washington DC, but you have to pick up a phone or send an e-mail. Show up at a local event your politician is attending. We teach how to stay safe in direct relationships by building rapport, communicating effectively and managing conflicts. These skills can go a long way in not only your personal relationship safety but in also helping you feel socially safe as well. So many people feel unsafe with government because they choose not to get involved and simply remain silent. Build relationships with the tools you have and get involved!

Tim Geel – SVP Corporate Instruction & Implementation