My Life Is Not My Vote
I posted an article a few weeks ago where I mentioned that sometimes I felt like the pawn at the beckon call of everyone else. I have to tell you, it's these last few weeks really brings those feelings home to roost. During this recent special election cycle we have been bombarded with the edict that our one and only task, and maybe the only reason we exist (o.k. that might be a bit of hyperbole) is to go out and vote. And, of course, not always stated, but always implied “and vote the way I want you to.” It's shouted from the rooftops of cable news, social media, your local TV newscast, the newspapers and magazines and yes, talk radio.
Now, before you start assembling the tar and feathers and building the rail to run me out of town, let me state clearly and emphatically and for the record, you should vote. I'm not going to tell you how to vote. But it is a privilege and a responsibility that we should exercise whenever we have the opportunity. It is, in my mind, a duty that we should perform with our best efforts. We should study and weigh the options with our best reasoning abilities and then vote the results of our conclusions.
Having said that, let me say that in my life, I will find it disappointing that at the end of the day I cast a ballot, if I look back and say that voting was the most important thing I did during that day, I will consider that as a failure. Voting is important and certainly a priority. But, the most important thing I do? Again, I hope not.
So what's more important? A few weeks ago I Googled the phrase “more important than voting.” Having scrolled through 10 pages of results, Google had nothing to offer. It did produce a couple of disturbing articles. There was this draconian post that indicated that we should all be mandated to get to the poll and vote. And there was this dystopian article that said that the biggest threat to democracy is elections. But nothing in those 10 Google pages that even suggested things that might take a higher priority. So, I'm left to my own devices.
Here are some of the things that, if I were to do them on election day, I would consider more important.
Be in service to someone else
When Tammy and I were dealing with our cancer diagnosis and treatments, we were amazed, but not surprised, by how many in our neighborhood were right to our door with offerings of any help they could provide. And it was not all “what can we do”, but also included “do you want to talk?” It was some of the most tender service I have ever received. I want to be like that.
Learn something new
One of the great opportunities we are given each day is to increase our knowledge. At the workplace, I have been working with some of the same equipment for, well, in some cases decades. It's always cool when I have those “I didn't know it could do that” moments. It's also worthwhile to me when I read thoughts that provoke reflection and a new realization. SUU has a program from their Alumni Relations group called “Learning Lives Forever.” They are right. It does, and the opportunity to gain knowledge every day is to be taken advantage off.
Support or contribute to a cause you feel passionate about
I have been touched by the work of several organizations that from my vantage point are doing exceptional things to benefit their communities, people who are in desperate situations, and doing what they can to improve conditions in the world. I won't reveal the things I support, or make suggestions on things you might get behind. But find those things that bring out your passion to be involved. By the way, supporting or contributing is not necessarily defined by giving money. There are hundreds of opportunities to volunteer with service organizations in our community.
Be a source of light
We now live in a world where there is an increase of those who are called influencers. I don't find anything amiss with that. You, too, can be one. Start with yourself and work out from there. First influence yourself with finding those principles that resonate with you, and the foundation on which you will live. Then live your life in such a way where those in you circle are drawn towards you. As you do this, you'll find that circle growing and ever expanding.
One last thing I consider more important on election day
After you cast your ballot, pat yourself on the back and then move on. There was a time when I would get so worked up about elections and how they were going. It was particularly intense on those days when it looked like those I was supporting were not going to take the day. I would work myself in to such a tizzy that I couldn't get any sleep. Then one time I had a realization. Life would go on. Despite this “setback” I would still find a way to enjoy the day. So, understand, your candidates, your “team” may or may not prevail. Either way, just keep on your course. We're going to be all right.