The late great Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr once said “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”

This powerful statement resonates because it reminds me that we all have the power to be heard and make a meaningful difference in our lives and the lives of those around us.

When we see an injustice in our lives it is our duty to raise our voices and do something about it. In today’s world many still carry the belief that only those with the most money are the ones that carry a voice in politics and overall community issues. Much of this is pure perception and can’t be further from the truth. We as individual people have a voice and the right to express ourselves against any injustice in our lives and of our communities.

One example is the work that has been done for the rights of low-wage workers in the Rio Grande Valley. Just like many others I’ve witnessed the unjust exploitation of low wage workers, many who also happen to be undocumented. I decided that I could do much more on this issue and commit to do a variety of things. The first thing is that I will vote largely based on what politicians have to say about this issue. I will also continue to personally express my concern directly to my elected representatives, and recommit my efforts to do more with worker justice groups. (If you too care about this issue please consider joining or supporting the efforts of Fuerza Del Valle,
an RGV based workers justice. Email: [email protected] )

Being civically activated is important in ensuring to protect the community we live in and care for. At the end of the day we are the ones that shape our community through our actions. We can choose to stay silent and do nothing, or we can make a difference in the things that matter.

Go out and vote and make it a lifestyle to vote. Organize your friends and neighbors around issues you care about. It could be issues like education, the environment, jobs, civil rights, and immigration just to name a few. Get to know who your elected officials are and don’t be shy to call them once in a while. Attend school board, city, and county meetings as much as you can to express any community concern you have. Another route you can take is to join or support existing community organizations and their efforts to bring about positive change in our communities.

If we can make this type of civic engagement a part of our lives, even if it’s just a small part of our lives, there is no doubt it will go a long way in making substantial and positive changes in the things that matter.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this guest column shows Fuerza Del Valle members protesting for the payment of wages for immigrant workers outside a construction firm’s office in McAllen in May, 2014.