Tuesday, November 04, 2008
We Take it for Granted
With the election today I have had a lot of thoughts floating around inside my head. The main theme seems to be gratitude. I drive by the local polling places and people are peacefully trickling in to cast their ballot for their candidate of choice, and I wonder if they stop for a moment to think about what they are doing, and how many people the world over do not have this opportunity to select the leaders of their country. In many cases, if they do have the chance to vote, it is a farce as their governments are so corrupt the election is a front for the rest of the world to try and convince everyone that they really do have a democracy, when in fact every citizen of countries such as this know for a fact the outcome of the election long before the "Kangaroo Election" is ever held.
We have no violence erupting, we can agree to disagree in the public arena of ideas, we can have a reasonably "fair fight" with the loser congratulating the winner. We don't hear gunshots in the background as we are cloaked in our voting booths, we don't fear reprisals for voting for the "wrong candidate", we won't have a civil war break out and fear for our lives and the lived of our families. No, instead barely half of the American population takes advantage of their right to vote, with the other half feeling disenfranchised, disillusioned or disinterested choosing not to exercise the right that others around the world continue to die for today.
I am an Independent, I can not always agree with either party and tend to choose my candidate individually based upon his or her unique gifts, expertise and foresight. I do think that my vote matters, that who we elect changes the course of history each and every time, as we have seen particularly during the past several years.
I was also reminded of this a few nights ago when I caught a show on TV that replayed President Reagan's "Tear Down This Wall" speech. I wonder how many of us who are adoptive parents of children from the former Soviet Union have ever stopped to give thanks for Ronald Reagan's courage at that moment, recognizing the fact that if he had never issued that declaration, our own homes would be very still and quiet, that our children would still be warehoused behind the Iron Curtain.
We all know someone, and perhaps we are like this ourselves, who says "It doesn't really matter who I vote for anyway, it's always politics as usual..." and yet that very person is the first one complaining when our economy stumbles, when we go to war, when we are paying higher taxes or have no access to medical care that we can afford. Try paying $800 for 90 seconds in an ER to remove a Lego up the nostril and that one will get you thinking about how much longer things can go on the way they are.
So today, whether you are part of the Obama Nation or love the Maverick McCain, do me a favor...do us all a favor...go down to your local polling place and cast your vote. As you do so, stop for a moment and say a little prayer of thanksgiving that you CAN vote, pray that the right candidate, whomever that may be, lead our country during the important next 4 years.
Pray for all of those around the world who will never have the privilege of doing what you can safely and easily do today. Pray for those who desperately want and need "CHANGE" themselves, and yet are powerless under repressive regimes. Pray for those in refugee camps who have been displaced and long forgotten. Pray for those who don't dare speak an ill word against an elected official, let alone have anti-political messages emblazoned across their back bumpers.
And pray that whatever happens, America remains a place where others can come to...as our children have...for a better life, a life of freedom and opportunity.
Now, go VOTE!!