What’s that saying…? Never discuss politics or religion.

It’s a rule I’ve pretty much followed, because I’ve found that I’ve never (not even once) experienced an enlightening conversation on these topics in mixed company with opposing views.

Too often, it just gives people a chance to sharpen the points on their own arguments and justifications without really, I mean really, listening to the other party. And that’s about the best outcome. The worst is having one or both sides devolve into a shouting match, replete with dismissive insults.

I find this a sad commentary on people’s fears, and tendencies toward close-mindedness in the name of righteousness. I mean, really, what is so threatening that we can’t let ourselves fully consider someone else’s point of view? If for no other reason than to come to a better understanding of who that person is and why?

Okay, since I’ve never veered off the designated subjects of this blog — my daughter, my dogs, a love of nature, and the occasional writing tip — where am I going with this post?

I have many lurkers who are young people, who’ve emailed me personally over time for one reason or another.

Young people, this post is for you.

I’m sure you’ve noticed, we are living in wild times. In this election year, you have the ability to affect the outcome. Please take this responsibility and opportunity seriously. All our futures depend on it.

First, please start by reading Nutmeg’s important post on One Vote is No Longer Enough.

Second, I’m not going to demean your intelligence by “suggesting” who you should vote for. (If you email me privately and wish to know who I’m voting for and why, I’ll be happy to share.) I will tell you that I’m registered as an Independent who has, over the years, voted both Republican and Democrat. Every election I do the work of thoroughly educating myself on the issues and candidates of both parties.

If you haven’t already, I’m asking you to do the same.

Please don’t let the fear-mongers get to you, or the slogans and soundbites sway you. Educate yourself by listening to all sides, as well as committing to doing your own investigating and digging to find the facts on each of the candidates and their running mates.

(A quick tip: Major foreign news outlets help flesh out the whole picture and often give a more balanced view of what’s going on here than do our own.)

(Another quick tip: Make FactCheck.org your new best friend. This is “a nonpartisan, nonprofit, consumer advocate site for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.” Also check out Fight the Smears web site, also provided by courtesy of Nutmeg.)

And, lastly, grab your friends and their friends, and GET OUT AND VOTE!

You can REGISTER TO VOTE ONLINE here, and if you can’t get a ride or are registered in another state, you can REQUEST TO VOTE ABSENTEEhere.

Be aware that there is a deadline for registration. In order to vote you must be registered 20 days before the election which is November 4th. That means you need to register by October 14th.

This may well be the most important election in which you’ll vote. Time is running out, so ACT now.

Oh, all right, since you’ve twisted my arm. I’m voting for Obama.