My kids are way too young to appreciate the end of Daylight Savings Time, so that’s what happened with Day 7 of NaBloPoMo. One day, they’ll get the memo. I’ll keep telling myself that.
Today is election day! FINALLY. This has been a super bizarre election cycle, and it has brought out so much ugliness – moreso than I’ve seen in previous elections.
The bizarro-ness reminds me of when I first moved to California. Something happened with the governor that forced a recall election. It seemed everyone under the sun was throwing their hat into the ring, including Gary Coleman. There were 135 candidates who qualified to be on the ballot! Complete madness. Who came out on top? Arnold Schwarzenegger. As odd as it was to have the Governator, his entrance into the political world wasn’t too big of a leap since he was married into the Kennedy family and had dabbled in politics before. I wasn’t a registered California voter, so I didn’t participate in the election, but it was probably the first time I really started to pay attention to government.
I’ve expressed in previous posts how much my time in California shaped my life. I ripped myself away from comfort and familiarity to live where nobody knew my name. San Francisco was also the complete opposite of conservative suburban Texas. I was forced to think about homelessness, LGBT rights, minority rights, women’s rights, taxes and a number of issues that at 22 was beyond my realm of understanding. The Bay Area is a really fascinating place to live demographically and sociologically with large populations of African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics, LGBT, yuppies, hippies, super rich, super poor and so on. I’m thankful for my time there, and I know being exposed to people of all different backgrounds opened my eyes and my understanding of the world outside of my bubble.
When the 2004 election rolled around, I felt much like most millennials did – that my vote didn’t matter. I was doing a mail-in ballot for Texas. I (like many others) was not happy about the Iraq War, so even though I knew Texas was going to back W again, I mailed in my vote for John Kerry. At least I checked that box of civic duty.
By the time I moved back to Texas in 2005, I felt like a fish out of water. I promptly got settled back in Austin, my little oasis. But I wasn’t going to go back to having my head in the sand. I was becoming more aware of what was and wasn’t happening around me. I couldn’t stop noticing others’ hardships and injustices. It angered me and saddened me how we as a nation really haven’t come THAT far since the 1960’s Civil Rights Era.
We had a moment in yoga teacher training where we talked about how being present brings us into a conscious state. We are awake now – to our suffering and others’. It’s painful to witness. But you can’t go back to sleep. You can’t unsee it. This is what’s happening with the Black Lives Matter movement. This is what’s happening with the Revolution that Bernie Sanders has been leading. We can’t go back to pretending like bad things aren’t happening or that the system is fair. So what can we do?
We practice compassion for ourselves and for others. When someone is suffering, we listen and take their stories in. We let them soften us and empathize as fellow human beings. We demand better of our elected officials. We use our voice through our vote. We make sure others have a voice too.
I’m adamant about voting because too many take this right for granted. Those who have every opportunity to vote (despite all the hoops for getting an ID or having personal transportation or time off from work) literally throw it away because they don’t care enough to do so. And then there are citizens who desperately want to vote and have many hardships (like the above mentioned obstacles), and they will take extraordinary efforts to cast their ballot. Short of being elected to the legislature, voting is our one shot every couple years to be heard.
We, as society, are better when we all care enough about each other to keep America moving forward. I’m not only voting for my personal benefit and beliefs, but I’m voting for others who need the most help and protection. My vote is bigger than me and my family. And so is yours.
If you haven’t already done so, please go vote. PLEASE. Do not throw away your shot.
As for tonight, I’m teaching class and will be away from the constant news coverage. I’ll catch up when I get home. Also, please don’t drink and drive, whatever the outcome. I’d like to come home alive to my family.