The act of voting can be so simple and yet, so incredibly inconvenient. For months we’ve been annoyed as campaigns clog our mail boxes and hijack our television sets. It pits friends and families against each other. And then on that Tuesday in November it’s simply too difficult to get to the polling station, wait in lines rivaling that of Disney theme parks, and wade through a ballot on which there are positions that don’t even make sense! Do you know that in South Carolina, people have to elect their coroner?!
But let me tell you… VOTING IS IMPORTANT. Because it is a justice issue.
This summer my college-aged sister-in-law stayed with my wife and I. Even though we don’t live in a so-called “battleground state,” we still live in a politically-charged area in a politically-polarized era. Therefore, the news and conversations regarding all levels of local and national government were impossible to avoid. Even so, I felt the need to encourage my sister-in-law to see the importance in the election process. I told her, “Becca, you should vote!” She responded as most uninterested voters do, “but I don’t really care who wins. I don’t even know who’s running.” I responded with a resolution that caught her off-guard. “I don’t care if you vote for exactly who your parents tell you to vote for. Your vote is VERY important. And that means a lot, because I can assure you that your parents probably vote very differently than I do!” With her eyebrows raised, she relented with a simple, “Wow! Ok!” Maybe I was a bit too bold in my reaction, but it was well-intentioned.
Working at Food for the Hungry, I’ve been able to hear firsthand how elections are held around the world. And through that I have gained a profound appreciation for the civil society I live in, that not only allows my vote to count, but does not put me in danger because of my vote. I’ve come to realize that my vote… no matter if it’s for a simple zoning referendum, a local primary candidate, or for the President of the United States of America… is a message of justice for the world.
When we hear of violence that occurs during democratic elections in other countries, two truths scream at us: that democracy needs deep roots, and that our VOTE is powerful. Do you remember when Iraq held its first elections following the ouster of Saddam Hussein? Do you remember how people braved threats in order to don their ink-covered fingers, evidence of their vote and a message to the world that “my vote is my voice and it brings me dignity”?
Voting is a fundamental component for the creation and sustaining of just and civil democracies. And while the democratic “west” has its issues, it is a blessing that those living in the west have the freedom to vote as they wish, free of danger. The world looks to us as an example for how a justice-filled election should be held, and it is our responsibility to participate. They see how an effective and civil election, no matter the outcome, brings prosperity to a country.
I’ll close with this:
Your vote is more than just your voice. Your vote holds with it the hopes the world has that justice can reign on earth, as it does in heaven.