Observe

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Freedom Habit: Observe

Many things in politics and government are useful and interesting to Observe. Sometimes they’re exciting, too. Some you have to attend when they happen. Others you can watch online, live or later. Here are some ways and places to Observe:

  • Public candidate and issue debates (or meet-the-candidates events)
  • Meetings of government bodies (from a city committee to Congress)
  • Rallies
  • Speeches
  • Elections (be a poll watcher or watch the counting of votes)
  • Watch C-SPAN
  • Join a conversation (or eavesdrop, if it doesn’t seem wrong)

Most government bodies are required by law to announce their meetings and publish agendas in advance, and to open nearly all of their proceedings to the public. Many other events are open to the public, as well — often without charge, ticket, or prior appointment.

At some meetings, printed agendas and other materials are prepared for anyone who attended; the American Fork City Council works this way. It’s also fairly common for such materials to be posted online, either officially or by participants or other interested parties.

You can read all the books or news stories you want about how a legislative body works, for example, but until you’ve seen it in action, you won’t realize how much more is going on than any ¬†writer can (or wants to) report. You’ll discover that other events, such as rallies, often look a lot larger or smaller, or wilder or tamer, than news reports make them look later.

At first, things may seem strange and confusion. But persist in observing, and things will begin to make sense to you. Feel free to ask others what’s going on and why. (Disclaimer: don’t expect any human activity to make perfect sense to you.)

These days, the best way to learn of rallies and other non-governnmental events in advance is to follow the right people, pages, and organizations on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. My local police department even posts the locations of planned speed traps on Facebook and Twitter.

Finally, please note that your observing will be a lot more useful to the rest of us if you find a way to Report at least some of what you saw and heard.

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