This is the first year that all of our children can vote in the Presidential election. In all honesty, I couldn't be more disappointed for them. This should be an exciting rite of passage but alas, we have seen America at its worst this past nine months or so, wouldn't you agree? I said the other day that I don't know what I'm most disgusted by, the candidates or the media and the selective content they daily feed us. This feels like an all time low for our nation.
I remember my first voting experience. I was either 19 or 20 I guess and had watched both conventions satisfied I'd done my homework. My father took me to the polls. If you knew him, you remember Dad as a man of few words.
We didn't talk on the way and I don't remember a conversation at all on election details leading up to voting day. We signed in and took our place in line, waiting for our turn in the booth. Right before I went in, I heard his voice close to the back of my head, "Vote Republican all the way across."
"Dad! You're not supposed to tell me how to vote!" I wasn't really mad. Just a little deflated. I wanted to be a grown up that day. I don't really remember how I planned to vote and if it was different from what he told me to do, but because I respected him, I obeyed. I recall feeling proud after I pulled the levers. I had done my civic duty. I exercised my rights and it felt good and right.
In fact, I've felt that way every election season since even when my guy didn't win. I seem to have become a poster child for making sure everyone I know is registered to vote. (Just ask my 20-something aged co-workers back at primary time.) Despite their flaws, I've always been able to align with a candidate and get behind him with enthusiasm.
Until this year. What to do? What to do?
I hate and hesitate to write this, but when I consider the world stage and what other countries are observing about us, for the first time I'm embarassed to be an American. Is this the best we've got?
One of the best things about living here in the United States of America is our freedom of choice. We are each walking down a path and can choose which direction we want to head. We can and should throw our opinion in the ring. We do that with our vote.
The reason for that is the men and women who've gone before us. When election season is upon us, I always find myself thinking about generations past and the political climate of their day.
Scott and I watched the movie Selma a few months ago and I was struck yet again with the price paid and won by men and women with passion and determination and how it wasn't just for their own benefit, but for mine and yours.
When I consider the state our country was in before women and African Americans shared the right to vote, I am still shocked. Doesn't seem like that could happen today in the land of the free and the brave. Of course, this is because we are standing on top of the acheivements of very brave Americans.
They stood up, sacrificed comfort, risked their future, fought for, were beaten, and some died for the right to vote.
Masses of people stood up, sacrificed comfort, risked their future, fought for, were beaten and some died for the right to vote.
Individuals stood up, sacrificed comfort, risked their future, fought for, were beaten, and some died for the right to vote.
For my right to vote.
They did it for themselves and more importantly, in some cases they put their very lives at stake for their children. Their grandchildren. The generations to come.
They made hard choices and did so with outlandish courage and passion. And here we sit enjoying the bounty of what they suffered for. I wonder if it had been my choice, would I even have that kind of fight in me? Would I get off my comfy couch in my warm, well-decorated living room and walk miles and miles, show up at a polling station day after day, rejected and sent away, to be heard and seen?
Or would I resign myself to, "it is what it is" and let someone else care enough? I'm not altogether sure my generation has fought for anything that my children and grandchildren will benefit from. I certainly haven't. We live in peace. Our 'world' is relatively safe. We breathe free air.
However, it seems like much of what we take for granted is at stake here in the 2016 election. There is a real war going on in politics. The tension is so thick and volatile that some of us skirt past the discussion afraid to give our opinion lest we bump up against hostility and are rejected.
Some things I've heard recently:
"I'm not sure I want to vote."
"There's no one I can get behind in good conscience."
"My vote won't make a difference."
"I won't tell anyone who I'm voting for. It's a private issue."
"I may not vote."
I get all that. I really do. I keep waiting for a do-over. I've hoped for a poll that clearly shows most Americans don't want either candidate, so let's scrap these two and get two more. Doesn't look like that's going to happen.
Every couple of weeks, I wring my hands and ask Scott, "What are we going to do?" That is the question and there is an answer.
After much prayer, this is what I've determined.
1. I will vote. You'd better believe I'm going to vote. That's my right. That's my voice. It matters. Someone else bought that vote for me and I will not let his/her sacrifice be in vain. Ever.
2. I will only read articles from writers whom I trust lest I get sidetracked by the next shiny morsel of intolerable indiscretion and risk my emotions taking over rationality. Then I will weigh the consequences of my choice.
3. I will reluctantly take character and integrity out of the equation because neither candidate has a leg to stand on. This saddens me greatly as the elegant, important office of President of the United States has been dumbed down and degraded so grossly. But that is where we are.
4. I will consider what has been fought and won for me to enjoy, be grateful for and enjoy it, but not selfish and complacent enough to forget to look behind me to the coming generations. I will ask what am I willing to put myself out there to secure for them?
5. I will look at the core issues represented. Knowing which ones I'm most aligned with, the stuff that matters in the long run, will determine my vote. It's no longer about who I'm voting for as what I'm voting for. The kind of America I want to leave for the next generation as much as it depends on me.
6. I will tell my children and anyone else who asks me how I'm voting and why. Yes it's tense out there. Yes, my stance may not be popular or even accepted. That's the point. As much as I want to learn from others with more experience and wisdom, I must be willing to share mine. We have to fight for what's important even if it costs something, which I doubt is a very high price in comparison to our forefathers.
7. I will never put my trust in a politician, a government, a nation or any person. Jesus Christ alone holds that position in my life. Elections have come and gone, in this country and others (who by the way suffer regularly under tyranny and corruption), and one truth remains. God is in control. Oh He will let us have our way and stray from His best plan for mankind if that's what we want. He does that because He understands and respects choices, so much so that He sent His own Son to fight and died for our ultimate freedom.
It's my turn to stand up, risk and sacrifice if necessary, demonstrating to my kids what is worth caring enough about and fighting for. For their sake, I can't afford to grow weary and lose heart.
I take comfort in and am encouraged by Daniel's prayer so many hundreds of years ago but completely relevant today:
Blessed be the name of God, forever and ever.
He knows all, does all:
He changes the seasons and guides history,
He raises up kings and also brings them down,
He provides both intelligence and discernment,
He opens up the depths, tells secrets,
sees in the dark - light spills out of Him!
God of all my ancestors, all thanks! all praise!*
These are dark days as you know, but we don't have to fear - the Light has come!
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
Even the darkness is not dark to You; the night is as
bright as the day, for the darkness is as light with You. Psalm 139:12
Jesus speaking: I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes
in me may not remain in darkness John 12:46
Believe, be grateful, leave a legacy. Vote.