On Wednesday, I vote.

It happens that I can vote in the Dutch federal election this Wednesday. Though it scares me a bit to vote in a Dutch election for the first time, I feel strongly about adding my voice in what is the latest in a series of “critical” elections around the world.

Here’s the thing - I only understood how important voting was after I started working in the mayor’s office in Edmonton. Your vote is your chance to shape your community. Your vote is your chance to influence the policies that will affect you, your family, your friends and those who are marginalized, less fortunate and more vulnerable. Your vote is your chance to stand for something.

I’ve become a bit obsessed with the US election, because following in the footsteps of Brexit, and foreshadowing scary political trends across Europe, it has been one ugly revelation after another. At first I thought of the mounting fear and hatred like a spreading disease, but it’s not really a foreign influence, is it? It comes from within, and it waits for just the right conditions to grow and sicken and destroy. It’s a cancer.

Forget politics for a second. Some of the most powerful players on the board right now don’t even have an agenda except to service themselves and slash-and-burn everything else. But I believe they are a symptom of a much deeper problem.

That “alternative facts” even exist, with fervent support I might add, is antithetical to my very understanding of this world. That people are so afraid of refugees, of Muslims, of people who are different -- with zero basis in reality -- deeply saddens me. That people see a helping hand to someone else as a threat to themselves, it’s just wrong. All of it makes me feel hollow inside. A world with no empathy -- that’s not my world.

So, when renowned “tolerant” Netherlands is on the verge of giving Geert Wilders - our very own Trump - more seats, I’m just grateful that I have the power of my own vote in the place I now call home.

If you’re curious to know more about this election, I’ll be breaking it down as I learn about it myself as a first time voter.

~ Erica