Right vs Rights
Today is an important day in American history… in fact, every four years, the first Tuesday in November IS an important day. It is the day we get to use our voice, speak our truths and make our hopes for the future known to the powers that be. And, unless you’ve been living in a cave without any connection to the outside world, then I imagine that you, too, have heard all the ranting about who is “right” for this country.
Living in a Republican state, I often don’t agree with the political majority here. I don’t agree with the majority of my family’s views. I get to open up facebook and see in the right column things like this:
and know that every one of those blurred names belong to one of my loved ones. And, every time I log in, that ad is there and there is a different group of different family names. I am a donkey in the middle of a herd of elephants.
I’ll be honest… I totally do not understand politics. I don’t understand how our country operates and the numerous hoops the politicians jump through to make laws and pass judgments and decide where the oodles of dollars are going to be tossed. When I was in school and they were teaching me about how the government runs, my eyes would glaze over, my head would fill with cottonballs and I would hear a droning, buzzing sound. None of it made sense.
What did make sense though was the innate knowing that, centuries ago, people fled their native homelands to find a better place, a better way, a safer land. They wanted to create a world were all were equal, where all could worship religiously as felt true to them, where the people could bear arms and gather peaceably. Back then, there were not issues of abortion or gay rights, but they were faced with deciding about the rights of entire races and genders. Although, our nation was built on the dream of all being equal and free, a vast amount of the population was not.
As a woman who has battled with herself to find her own feet to stand upon and her own voice to speak out, I look at that picture above and I overflow with emotions of generations of women who have long been suppressed. My suppression and need to “belong” somewhere – anywhere – led me through a series of dangerous decisions which, to this day, have ongoing consequences. Because I didn’t know my own voice, I chose into a marriage where I was battered physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. A marriage where, on the last night together, he nearly killed me and the only reason I got out alive was because, the next day, he threatened to take my baby away. SHE was the only reason I chose out of that violence and, I am so grateful for that, but I didn’t choose out for me. I chose out to save her.
In light of that, when I woke this morning, feeling the misalignment of emotions crashing around the nation today, I was disoriented and unclear. I had decided to forfeit my right to vote because I live in a Republican state and kept telling myself that “my vote doesn’t count.” Then I logged into fb and the first thing that popped up on my newsfeed was this:
I do have a voice. And I am important in this land. I choose to vote because I have found the way to stand up for myself. I have found a way to stand up for those who are still faltering in the darkness of violence or addiction or self-loathing. I have found my voice and choose to use it for myself, for my daughter, for my ancestors, for the victims, for the perpetrators, for the fallen, for the lost, for the powerless. I have found a passion about being alive and I choose to sing that out, in the hopes that those who are scared, feeling alone or forgotten will know that I have gone before them and I am lighting the path, holding out a hand, and I’m willing to walk beside them as they find their own feet, their own voice.
As I scrolled through my newsfeed, I found link after link about either President Obama, Michelle Obama or Mitt Romney. I went to their respective pages to see what I would find. On Romney’s page, I saw things like this…
When I went to Barack’s and Michelle’s pages, I found images like this:
As I looked at the images, I felt the same feeling I felt four years ago: HOPE. Really, when it comes to me voting, the title of their “associated party” means nothing to me – but the character of the candidate, what they stand for and how they present themselves to the world is what calls to me. The reason why I choose to continue to support President Obama is because he is real and he is the example of a man I would want for myself or my daughter. I love the frequent displays of affection captured by the media. He loves his wife. He loves his children and it shows in his interactions with him. He’s real. They are real. And, when whoever it was leaked that important news that was going to “alter the outcome” of this year’s election and let it be known that Michelle had filed for divorce many years ago, I applauded for them! YAY! It made them all the more human and lovable for me. They’ve had hard times. They’ve thought about quitting one another. AND they stuck it out.
So, in a split second, I made a choice to exercise my voice. At 6:30am this morning, I chose into going to the polls and voting. I chose to stand up for myself, once again, and use my voice – even if I am a donkey amongst an entire state of elephants. It doesn’t matter. I voted for all the women who have gone before me. I voted for all the women in my family lines who have been suppressed, repressed, and had to conform to subservience. I voted for all those who are in bondage, darkness, hunger, despair. I voted for women who are being abused and are afraid to find help. I voted for those who are abusing those women and cannot see the ongoing damage they are causing. I voted for my daughter. But, most importantly, I voted for me because it is my right – hard fought for, hard won – to do so.
I saw things at the polls this morning that filled my eyes with tears to overflowing. A young father casting his votes with his young son standing beside him. Another with his son in his arms. A mother with her daughter, dressed in her fairy costume, waiting patiently. A fully tattooed, bald man laughing with an elderly woman who was clearly not afraid of his menacing appearance. A woman bowing her head prior to voting, a moment of silence to clear her mind. I felt the love, the trepidation, the hope that radiated through that space.
And, through it all, I felt myself heal yet another layer of my own self-abuse. Once again, I was choosing to stand up for me and, suddenly, my strength was renewed and I was free.