10/09/2013 02:37 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Woe Is Us (and It Shouldn't Be)

Maybe it is the shorter days. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it is the gridlock in Congress that has shut down portions of the government and, shamefully, put 800,000 people out of work (with the promise of back pay one day) and threatens that the U.S. will default on its loans.

In any event, there is a pall of defeatism these days. There's nothing we can do, it's just the way that things are (and will always be). And it is high time that we, as Loretta (Cher) said to Ronny (Nicholas Cage) in the movie Moonstruck, "Snap out of it!"

The people have the power to make change happen, if we only use it. Instead of decrying our government inefficiency we have to remember that we hired these people to do our bidding; since we sent back nine out of 10 people who had created the sequester, have been unable to pass a budget and a host of other things that result in sub-basement approval ratings we have to accept the fact that the power for change is at our fingertips each election.

So, why do people continue to feel helpless?

In the case of economic inequities and business misbehavior we have the same power on a daily basis. As @missmerrycarole tweeted; "Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want."

It is not a popular message. I continue to be surprised how vociferous the opposition to empowerment can be. 'You're blaming the victim' is the usual criticism, but the fact is we are not innocent victims. We are, through our actions, unknowing (in some cases), unwitting (in others) and even ignorant (denying the obvious) co-conspirators in our own fate, even as we lament it.

Whenever we purchase goods or services from a business, we support the social, political and economic actions of that business. There is a reason why low-low-cost retailers pay poorly. Because they have maximized volume discounts and off-shored to take advantage of cheaper labor (often at the expense of quality and safety of those workers) and prices continue to be driven down by consumers who, thanks to lower wages, seek out ever-lower prices. While a rising tide may raise only some of the boats, a lowering tide is far more universal in its impact.

This downward spiral must stop, and only we can stop it. We cannot sit around and wait for "someone else" to fix the problem -- not government officials through legislation and regulation that we know cannot be passed or implemented. Nor can we rely on advocacy groups. The difference we want is the difference we can make. And we must remember what @ShailKhiyara said: "What you do in life echoes in eternity."

It is not someone else's responsibility, it is ours. And as we make changes and see the results, like a dieter watching the numbers go down on the scale, incremental improvements encourage further action.

As my friend Leland Maurello sad, "I've already seen the future, I'm going to rewrite it now."

Change is within our hands. We need only understand that we have the power and start to use it. Not only when we vote in elections, but every day, week and month with our wallets, our purses and our choices. Like what a company does or stands for? Become a regular. Dislike the actions of another? Go elsewhere. Sure it may mean going a bit further, but perhaps a little inconvenience and living our values will make us all feel a little better.

Subscribe to Must Reads.
The internet's best stories, and interviews with their authors.