I voted today, but mostly as an act of gratitude.
My heart is heavy, and not just because it feels like our great nation could potentially be tanked no matter who wins this presidential election. Oh, that thought crosses my mind (a lot), but I’ve been reflecting lately on God’s sovereignty – and how even when he straight up delivered Israel into the hands of its enemies He was still in control, whether it made sense or not. (Also about how much actually gets done at all quickly in our government, but that’s a post I’m not qualified to write…)
The reality is, I’m just struggling today. I’m growing weary thinking about political systems, about parenting, about winter and depression and a whole mess of yuck that happens sometimes. I had made up my mind this morning that I probably just wouldn’t make an effort to get to my polling place. I have a lot to do, perhaps even more than usual. I feel disenfranchised with the whole election process, perhaps even more than usual. And besides – it’s totally back near my house, when everything I have to do all morning is by the kids’ school.
But then I couldn’t shake thoughts about what I already knew to be true. There are local issues like that of mental health that can’t be ignored. And let’s be honest, most true change begins at the local level.
More than that, it’s this simple for me: generations of people have given their lives so that I can have this right. That’s a big deal, and one that deserves our respect.
My older kids have talked more this year than ever about the presidential election. This isn’t surprising, given that they’re four years older than last time, and given that everyone seems to be talking about it so much that they come home from school (and church and soccer and…) with straight up propaganda about this issue or that, this candidate vs that. To be clear, this is from peers – not leaders!
(Can I be extra honest for a minute? If you want to tell your kids a bunch of your political beliefs and opinions, go for it. I love that you’re discussing your passion and the gravity of politics as a family. But if they’re in third grade and can’t possibly understand the issues at the level of detail you’re providing, and can’t possibly stop spreading what basically equates to gossip and fear (no matter which side you’re on), maybe just don’t? //rant)
It’s been hard for me, though. I tell them about our fight for freedom at the onset of our country’s journey. We talk about how very cool it is that our founding fathers had the wisdom to build in systems of checks and balances so that nobody could have too much power. I try and allay fears they’ve been fed about waking up on November 9th, their home having imploded. ????
We discuss the differences between democracy and other types of government, and how special it is that we get a say in how our country works. We express gratitude for how wonderful it is that we are allowed to safely do so many things that we take for granted – things like worship and learn and even things like drive and participate in conversations with doctors and teachers (“even though” 3/5 of us are female).
And yet I find myself speaking very cautiously. I want my kids to know how amazing each of those truths are. But – and call me some millennial-related name that you think is derogatory – I often don’t believe half of what I’m saying. The historical stuff? Sure. Totally. The stuff about every vote counting and the government being for the people and by the people? Meh… No comment.
But I want to say it again: generations of people have given their lives so that we can have this right.
So please, consider going out to vote (if you’re willing to do a little legwork, for which there is still time). Trust me, I absolutely get it. It can be disheartening when it should be empowering. Pick one issue and learn about it, vote on that one, and leave the rest of your ballot blank. Vote for just the presidential race, so long as you believe in the bubbles you’re filling. Just show up, and be grateful for the right to do so.
Today I voted for my kids. Not as a write-in, because they aren’t technically eligible candidates in Ohio (or any state, for that matter). I may have considered it, even still.
No, I voted so that when I tell my kids I’m proud – and oh, so grateful – to be an American, I can do so with integrity.
Today I voted for veterans and members of the military. Not because any way I voted will necessary affect them one way or another, but because they were and are willing to lay down their lives for my freedom.
I wanted to stay off of the internet for pretty much the entire month of November. Then I wanted to instead flood the internet with things of love and compassion and kindness and laughter and maybe even a little pixie dust.
I don’t actually find myself in the position to do either of those things today. Instead, I’ll just say this: I’m grateful.