A Little Bit of Wonder is where I journal about the somewhat roundabout way that I have been working to establish a career and a strong sense of self--I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about "direction" and "identity." I have a Master's Degree in Literature, but I'm no longer working as an English Professor; I'm starting the next step in my life as I work to establish a career as a writer in the non-profit sector.

At my companion blog, Little Wonder's Recommended Reading, you will find reviews for both books and other blogs that I enjoy. The two blogs are inter-linked, so you can access my reviews and reading challenges from the sidebar on the left.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Today's Inspirational Message

Lately, politics have been giving me indigestion. With less than a week to go until the presidential election, I'm getting tired of debating my mother over global warming and most of all, sick of how people from both the Republican and Democratic parties seem to have taken a swan dive off the cliff of sanity and into the gaping ravine of fanatical hate. A hanging effigy of Sarah Palin? A plot to assassinate Obama and 88 other people? It's starting to feel like we live in a Latin American country or the Middle East.

That brings me to today's inspirational message: if you don't care about voting, you bug me. Offended yet? Good. Now I have your attention. Want to know why you get under my skin?

Well, you may feel like your vote doesn't matter. You may feel like neither choice (Obama/Biden, McCain/ Palin) is a good choice. But at least you have a choice. At least if you go to the polls on Election Day, you're not going to be coerced or harmed. And if you really want to make yourself heard, you've got a voice--and you can use it without fear. To everyone living in a dictatorship or a theocracy, that would be an amazing right and opportunity.

A lot of people that I meet that don't care about voting don't have that perspective. Americans don't know what it's like not to have free speech. Certain ethnicities and races still know and feel the power of discrimination (in regards to voting and otherwise), but the majority of the country has no idea what it is to fear for their lives because of the political climate. You may not have the time to travel to a foreign country, but read a book--In the Time of the Butterflies or In the Name of Salome by Julia Alvarez (two of my favorite novels), Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, or The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, for example. Check out Baghdad Burning, an anonymous blog that has been published in two volumes. Take a minute to imagine what it would be like to live under a dictator, or under communism. Even just catch up on your World News--consider the elections in Kenya, or the image of the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad being pulled to the ground in April 2003.

Try to understand the desperation of people who cannot speak out--or people who have spoken out, despite the danger to their own lives, and have been silenced.

Try to imagine what it would be like if we did not have the opportunity every four years to replace our president, or to re-elect members of Congress.

You may not like the way that our government is run, or who is running it. But if you stop to consider these types of things, I feel that you have little choice but to appreciate the construction of our government. It is not perfect, but it is flexible. We have the ability to change our laws and system of governance without destroying the whole thing and starting again from scratch. We have the ability to reinvent ourselves as a nation without tumbling into violence and chaos. And that's why effigies of Bush, Palin, and McCain are so disturbing. That's why shouts of "Kill him!" at McCain rallys bother me so much. We don't live in Latin America or the Middle East, and none of our political candidates should have to fear for their lives.

All that American patriotism that my generation doesn't really seem to understand? All that hokey "American Dream" stuff that Obama and McCain are trying to revive? Well, after eight years of listening to George W. Bush malign the idea, turn it into a slogan, it certainly does sound cheesy. But the gist of it is this--America is one of the greatest countries in the world, no matter how fake our politicans can make that sound when they say it up on a stage, and it's not about Americans being better than anyone else. Because we're not. We have the capacity to be arrogant, selfish and destructive. Our leaders are sometimes as corrupt as in any other nation, and we've been led into some sketchy situations. We've compromised our ideals, and probably will continue to do so. But the American system of government allows us to continue striving for the dream of freedom and equality, change for the better, and ultimately peace.

That was genius on the parts of the men who constructed the United States Constitution. Now we just need to prove that we ourselves can be as flexible as our own system of government. We need to stop allowing issues to polarize us, or political corruption to discourage us. We need to use our free speech to build constructively, not create more choas and a climate of fear and violence. We need to care enough in order to make our voices heard--something that so many new people will be doing on November 4 this year. We need to believe in the freedom and power of our own vote.

And that has been today's inspirational message, just in case you missed Obama's infomercial last night before the World Series. Tune in tomorrow, and I'll be selling you a sausage grinder that comes with a free gift of cubic zerconia earrings.

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