4 out of 4 stars
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Are you frustrated with a government that doesn’t seem to listen to you? Are you sick of political bullies that shut you down whenever you speak out? Do you want to be involved in local decision-making but don’t know how to start? Citizen Ninja by Mary Baker might be the book for you. Citizen Ninja is a nonfiction book about creating, maintaining, and influencing healthy political discourse for more productive and responsive governments. This book is the solution for times when being passionate about an issue just isn’t enough to get stuff done.
Ms. Baker frames her ideas around the character of a ninja. Ninjas were rogue samurai in medieval Japan, and like these medieval ninjas, Citizen Ninjas stand up to larger powers through non-traditional means by being creative and resourceful. A Citizen Ninja uses focus, flexibility, confidence, practice, and strategy to take an active role in his/her/their local government. Throughout the book, Ms. Baker not only explains the strategies involved with becoming a Citizen Ninja, but also some of the traps and pitfalls that cause well-meaning activists to stumble. She provides examples of good and bad actions related to many topics throughout the book.
For many people, a book about political activism will gain appeal because 2016 is a major election year. This book, however, is really about the small decisions that local governments make all the time. Granted, it will serve you well when a dinner table political argument gets tough, but that isn’t the point. Ms. Baker’s book is non-partisan and not heavily concerned with federal politics. The perspective offered here is that government starts and ends locally. By becoming conversant with local politics, Citizen Ninjas can affect the ways that all politics impact their lives.
Government is necessary for a well-functioning society, and American government is supposed to be based on the will of the people. Mary Baker offers tools that she herself has tried and tested in order to better equip ordinary Americans to influence their governments. Every citizen is supposed to have a voice; each just needs to learn how to speak so that others will hear. This book is extremely practical in this regard for every American. The public is responsible for the government, and regardless of what is seen on television, the person who shouts the loudest is often the last one that people hear. Ms. Baker shows how learning the rules, preparing in advance, and being aware of the people around you turn a citizen into a Citizen Ninja: an effective change-agent in the decisions that affect you directly.
Even if you’ve never wanted to attend a town hall or city council meeting, join a committee or advisory board, or learn the ins and outs of zoning laws, this book might still be for you. How do you express an opinion when everyone in the room disagrees? How do you rescue a conversation when emotions start flying around? Citizen Ninja is a book about making yourself heard while maintaining the poise and maturity of an adult, a professional, or a role-model. With great pleasure, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars, and I recommend it to everyone. This is a lesson we all can learn and an area in which improvement can never be exhausted.
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