Ten Commandments of Voting

Don’t get your dander up. Although this is a post about the upcoming election, it’s not one that bashes either candidate. In fact, while eating lunch with a friend yesterday, we concurred that while our presidential choice differs, we still feel that both candidates are men of integrity. That said, I’m tiptoeing away from further discussion and want to write just a little about the importance of voting.

Don’t get your dander up. Although this is a post about the upcoming election, it’s not one that bashes either candidate. In fact, while eating lunch with a friend yesterday, we concurred that while our presidential choice differs, we still feel that both candidates are men of integrity. That said, I’m tiptoeing away from further discussion  and want to write just a little about the importance of voting.

We live, hands down, in the best country on the face of the earth. Naturally, I haven’t visited them all, except in books and other written material, but I feel fervently that this is a land choice above all other lands. I just finished reading The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly, and in it she describes the solitary confinement and brutal treatment of Teza who is serving a 20-year prison term for singing about politics and power in a country (Myanmar) where political dissent was (is?)  forbidden.

Here in America, people sing against, laugh at, and show disrespect for leaders and candidates, and nothing happens. I’m not saying that something should. I’m just saying that we take our freedom to speak and voice our opinion for granted. Last night I watched a SNL video of the debate between vice presidential candidates, and while I thought it was amusing, I was again struck by the incredible freedoms we have. In many countries, the actors would probably be dead by now. Or no, I doubt that some spoof like the one I saw would have even gotten off the ground.

Back to The Lizard Cage. I might never have known about this book had I not been introduced to it in The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. In this book, the author also relates three of “The Ten Commandments of Voting,” a pamphlet that his mother had been given while visiting an African country in which people were allowed to vote freely for the first time. I’m listing these three commandments right from Schwalbe’s books in the hope that they’ll move you as much as they did me.

  1. You have nothing to fear. Remember that your vote is secret. Only you and your God know how you vote.
  2. People who promise things that they never give are like clouds and wind that bring no rain: do not be misled by promises.
  3. Your vote is your power: use it to make a difference to your life and your country.

What can I add to these statements written in a pamphlet encouraging people who were able to vote freely for the first time, people who were well aware of the privilege and power of casting their vote? Nothing, unless it’s to remind everyone of our insanely wonderful (and sometimes wacky) American culture and all of the freedoms we have.

Two Extraordinary Men

Hands down, Kathleen Parker is my favorite columnist…and no, not because she’s a woman but because she has the uncanny ability to say just what I’m thinking in a much better, more eloquent manner. You’ll see why in a moment.

 

At the end of election week, I find myself still thinking of John McCain and what a courageous, tough man of integrity he is. Don’t experience and sacrifice count for something?? Then I think of our president-elect, and as I said in an earlier post, I can clearly see that he has many sterling attributes and that perhaps he is the better person for unifying such a diverse group of people. My heart is sore for McCain, but my spirit is hopeful for Obama and his mission.

 

What does this have to do with Kathleen Parker? In her words: “We arrived at this historic moment through the sacrifices (and blood) of those who preceded us. Barack Obama’s ascendancy is testament to the audacity of the American dream—as well as to the enormous suffering of men such as John McCain.” And then she continues, “Two men of extraordinary talent clashed not in the battlefield of strap-on bombs , but in the civilized arena of ideas.”

 

See. I told you I couldn’t have said it better (or as well).

Our New President

I’ll admit it; I voted for John McCain. I like the guy and everything he stands for. What’s not to like and respect about a man who as a young P.O.W. turned down the opportunity to go home after his captors learned of his identity? To him, it seemed wrong and downright unethical to desert his fellow countrymen who were also being held as prisoners. That’s the kind of man I want in my foxhole, don’t you? Then there are the decades of experience in the Senate in which he was being honed and seasoned to be the leader of the free world. With our country at war, the economy in shambles, the healthcare system in a deplorable shape, I reasoned that his leadership skills were just what the nation needed.

 

However, America has spoken, and over half  feel that Barack Obama is the man for the job. There are several attributes that I admire about him, among them his cool demeanor, his keen intellect, and his evident ability to inspire faith and hope in those who are ready for change. It scares me a bit that he seemed to come out of nowhere and to have SO MUCH MONEY AND POWER compared to others with a longer, steadier track record. And yet, the voters have spoken.

 

Here’s another thought I had as I watched Obama’s family on election night. There they were: a father, a mother, and the children…a nuclear family in an age when the increasingly popular standard seems to be anything but. Perhaps he’ll be just the role model that young men need to encourage them to “step up to the plate” and accept the responsibilities of parenthood. Perhaps Michelle will somehow inspire young women to marry and then have children. No, I’m not bashing single parents. I am saying, however, that anyone reading this who doesn’t think there is some degree of “mother hunger” and “father hunger” hasn’t listened to the children, teens, and yes, even the adults of the U.S.A.

 

McCain valiantly fought the good fight and was gracious and gentlemanly in his election night speech. Perhaps Sarah Palin hurt his cause. Perhaps it was the economy. Maybe it was the legacy of the Clinton/Bush years. Then again, maybe it’s just that he represents the “old school,” and his fellow Americans are desperate for change.

 

Does the president-elect have what it takes to heal the nation’s wounds and forge “unity among diversity?” I hope so. He has my support and my prayers. From the advice he’s being badgered with from his supporters and well-wishers, he’s going to need all of our prayers. I once read that Billy Graham said he supported whoever was president at the time because of his fervent belief that whoever the man was, he was God’s choice for us at that time in history. Sure hope he’s right