Thursday, November 4, 2010

Turning In My Ballot

I'm grateful for my ability to vote for what I believe in. I'm not a very patriotic person, at least not in the waving-the-flag, singing-the-national-anthem, reciting-the-pledge-of-allegiance kind of way, but I have some serious convictions about the very real value in our right to vote.

Sometimes it feels like we're voting for the lesser of two evils and it's hard to find the truth and the excitement behind that little black line between two rectangles. Sometimes there is a very clear choice and every ounce of political energy is poured into that issue, so much so that the opposing side makes me cry just thinking about their position on the matter. So often politics is two-faced and wildly hypocritical, disgusting and down-right scandalous, but every so often, someone has a good idea, a way to carry us all through to a better reality, to an easier life, to an accepting and understanding community. However, no matter what the issue, no matter what the cause, my vote is my signature on my beliefs. It is my own declaration of independence. It gives me the right to hope for the best and complain about the worst. It spurs me to make changes in my own life and to lovingly discuss those ideals with those around me.

There is so much panic and anger in our politics lately, it's hard to feel truly grateful for all the opposing ideals, but as Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." She wrote this describing Voltaire's politics, his passion for freedom of speech. Sometimes, elections don't turn out the way we want them to and sometimes devastatingly so, but we have to have faith that the world will keep on turning and time will keep moving forward, and as it does, what we hope for will come to pass.

I've made several personal choices in my life that have been devastating to me, but they were each made in the hope of a better life. More accurately, they were made in the hopes that I would become myself--the best version of myself. The choice to give up my own child for adoption when I was seventeen and my choice to leave the religion I grew up in because I could no longer reconcile my personal beliefs with their religious ones stand out to me as the two major decisions of my life, both heartbreaking in a way I cannot express in words, though I've tried often. Some seem to shrug off the second as my desire to not "live the standards" set forward by the religion, but it was much more difficult than that. I thought about it carefully and for a very long time. I wanted there to be an easier solution, one that would be less damaging to both me and my family, especially my parents who I felt like I was betraying. But I was miserable and ashamed living amongst something I no longer felt right, so I had no other choice. It was the vote of my life.

Our choices and beliefs make a difference in this world. No matter how much the media tries to twist our votes into their biased meaning, we are the only ones that truly know what our vote meant, what we were declaring by making it. My hope is that we take this right seriously and research our options carefully. There isn't always something on the ballot that we naturally care about, but someone out there does (otherwise there's no way it would be there) and we owe it to their fervor to take it seriously. I love to vote. I love the quest for Right behind it. I don't always love the result of the nation's choosing, but I put in my say and that is everything to me and my own feeling of worth in our society.

I'm grateful for my right to vote.

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