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The Right to Act

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Amidst the political hoopla we have been inundated with over the last year, we must now prepare to seriously pay attention to the issues, the backbone of each candidate’s campaign and our gut feelings. More importantly, we must seize the glory in the possibilities and our right to go out and vote, to speak our minds, to take advantage of the civil liberties we, sometimes, take for granted.

I had an Aha moment a few weeks ago that shook loose the cobwebs in my political thinking.

One morning while I was in my office, an employee walked in wearing his typical scowl on his face, only this morning, his forehead was wrinkled up much like a Shar-Pei dog. Each step he took was accompanied with a low grunt. Somewhat experienced with body language, I knew he wanted to hear me ask, “What’s wrong?” I didn’t want to give in to this disgruntled individual but fell weak. It was still very early in the day.

“What’s wrong?” I asked as I tried to feign a sign of interest.

“I got jury duty.” He snapped as he slammed a folder down.

“Oh, so what’s the problem? You’ll get paid for it.” I stated.

“It’s a waste of time and a pain in the ass.”

“Much like the conversation I’m having with you.” I thought. I really wasn’t in the mood to continue listening to his complaints about doing his civic duty, nor, did I want to harp on him about how un-American he sounded. So I got up and left the room but before I could make it safely out the door, he added one more remark.

“I don’t vote either!” he boasted.

“Well then, you have no right to complain then, do you?” I responded and with that I left him to sulk in his pettiness.

 A few minutes later I entered the office again and the same employee was talking to another employee about jury duty and about not voting. I stood there and listened to both men agree that voting was stupid; a waste of time and it didn’t make any difference anyhow. At first it angered me and then I summed it up to blatant ignorance. What else could it be?

I’m not going to get up a soap box because I, too, question the accuracy of our votes. However, I also remember a story several years ago of a seventy-three year old man in a third world country who walked twenty-four hours to exercise his right to vote for the first time in his life.

That story encouraged me to never take my rights for granted again. I get aggravated by the onslaught of ads during a political campaign. I fear the unfair justice that changes the lives of the innocent. I ache for those who have fallen through the cracks of our society, discriminated against for whatever reason, abandoned for none. I get angry at senseless wars and the loss of young lives that choose to fight for our liberties. I understand the weaknesses in our system but more importantly I grasp at the strengths.

We must never forget from where we came but we must always look forward. Question those who we doubt as much as those who we trust. Uphold the rights that so many fought for, died for and understand how truly lucky we are in this world of turmoil and chaos.

Yeah, jury duty is a pain in the ass but asked the innocent man who goes to prison what kind of day he’s having. Voting can be complicated and time consuming. Many feel an uneducated vote is worse than not voting at all. Trust me, after the first time you stand at a voting booth and find yourself making choices that change your community, your life and the lives of others, you’ll take the time to educate yourself. No vote is simply a choice to do nothing.

I cannot afford to do nothing. Can you?

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