Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Is Civic Duty a thing of the past?

Today was election day. When I woke up this morning, in my ear, I swear I heard my mother asking "Did you vote? I hope you voted, its important to vote."

Yes mother, I voted today. Normally, voting is a really emotional experience for me. I walk to the poll with tears in my eyes. I have tears of gratitude that I get to cast my vote, and make my voice heard, no matter how small, I still get to have my say.

Today, there were no tears, but there was sadness. I was so saddened that I pulled up to my polling place, and found a spot in the front row. As I walked to the entrance, I saw the signs posted to keep solicitors away. I stopped, glanced around and chucked bitterly to myself. Those signs were not needed. There was no one there to yell at me, or trying to influence my vote. No one was attempting to keep me from the polls. In fact, there was no one there at all.

As I walked into the polling office, I signed the voter roll, picked up my ballot, and filled in the blanks.  I went to the machine and as I scanned my ballot, the counter ticked up to number 44. Only 43 others took the time to vote today in my district. This evening, 6 hours later, P went to vote, and his vote was number 89. How very sad. In someways, it felt so very unAmerican, and in others, it felt very American. I fear that we have turned into a country of ungovernables. No matter who is in office, we gripe. Our guy, their guy, it does not seem to matter any more because most of us are not concerned enough to do anything about the situation. I fear that we have become too complacent to care.

I fear that we have forgotten the value of the vote, and the sacrifice it took to earn it. As a woman, it is an honor to vote, because so many of my sisters before me were kept from the polls because of their sex. They were kept from the polls because they were perceived to be to weak and too uneducated. Besides, why would they need to vote when their husband could do it for them. I think of Elizabeth Cady Stanton or Sarah Grimke. Women who fought and dreamed, and hoped that their daughters would have the chance to vote.

I wish that my experience at the polls today was different. I wish that I needed to circle the parking lot to find a spot. I wish that there were people with posters and signs, chanting, yelling, and beckoning me to come and listen for a moment. I wish the line of voters was out the door. I wish I had to wait to vote. I wish the poll workers were swamped with work to do. I wish there were more people out there who cared.

All over the world, right now, there are men and women fighting for freedom.  They are waking up this morning, and gearing up for another day of political activism. They are sacrificing their time, their money, their resources to fight another day. They fight to have a chance to have their voice heard. They put their children to bed each night and as they look at them, their strength is renewed, because they see who they are fighting for. To make tomorrow better than it is today.

I think about men and women the world over who live under dictators or monarchs who make their rules and decide the course of action for their people. I think of countries where elections are rigged, and the outcome is predetermined.

Right now, I am grateful. I am grateful that I used my voice, that I cast my ballot, and that I exercised my fundamental right as an American. This week, I aim to do an act of service for my fellow Americans every day. I vow to honor someone, to serve someone, and to give to someone. 

Happy Election day my dear friends.


Denise said...

Washington is voting by mail only now - no more polls. What about where you are? Are people voting more by mail too? I actually miss going to the polls. I found the experience very patriotic. It is sad what you wrote about and even more sad when people complain and yet they don't vote....

your mom did a good job with you for sure!

One Family said...

I was going to say the same thing...maybe people are voting by mail. That's the option I choose.

Stacia said...

I did not vote. I'm proud of the ones that did.