“If you think you’re too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.” – Betty Reese

Photo: Entoloma hochstetteri, the Sky Blue Mushroom. This mushrom is native to New zealand and is small but powerful because it breaks down decay, making nutrients available for other organisms to asimulate and grow. (Source)

It is always alarming when I hear a young person say they are not going to vote because they feel one little vote won’t count. Alarming, because this assumption is exactly why votes could stop counting. It is a self-perpetuating cycle of doom. This is flawed logic: people vote the way they can see other people voting, I assume, because they want to be sure their vote counts. Can you imagine what would happen if everybody did the research and matched it to their ideals and then voted? I believe the polls we are seeing would be completely different. There would certainly not be such a huge sway towards DonKey, and the Greens’ percentage would surely swell. People however, forget just how powerful their vote can be, and thus render it less so.

The truth is, the only people who have ever changed my life are “just one person”. Just one young person introduced me to my Green whanau. Just one young person convinced my friend Gemma to eat less meat: I found out yesterday, that I was that particular young person. As I have been inspired by young person after young person, I too have been an inspiring young person. It is a cycle of genuine awesomeness that can only occur if just one young person does something. So you might be just one young person but you are powerful. Believe it or not, there is even more to you counting than your vote.

As a young person, particularly one who is engaged, or even just interested in politics, you are all too aware that you are just one young person. You are constantly being reminded of this when you are at school or at uni. You are one of the hoards of nameless faces in the sea of students, or you are “the young one” at work. Your voice is often not heard, and when it is, you are accused of “trying to take over”. So no wonder, the one time every three years that your opinion is asked for (along with everybody else’s) you feel like your vote may not count. If we had Civics Education in schools, you would see that your voice can actually be heard a lot more than triennially, and even before you turn 18. I believe we do not have civics ed because it would show up capitalist “democracy”: Young people would start seeing their civic power. I want to see civics education introduced. The powers that be know that just one young person can make a difference, so it is time we knew that too!

There are many things you can do to be heard: You can organise or go to protests or flash-mobs.;You can write letters to the editor of your local daily rag; You can start lobby groups at your school or workplace; You can propagandise on your facebook page; You can write submissions when your local council tries to do something that affects you; You can talk and talk and talk in a reasoned fashion about why you do certain things, and maybe someone will be inspired and change their life too. Just by leading by example you, just one young person, can change the world.

It takes just one little action> It starts off a cycle> it influences other actions> it makes things happen. Without just one young person, nothing will ever change.

-Jess East, 28, Dunedin Greens Campaign Manager 2011.