First, I have to share this picture from our garden this morning. We get concerned about so many things. Elections. Finances. Our world at war. But look at this flower, adorning our orchid tree. It’s just happy to be blooming, and so glad to celebrate another morning.
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? – Matthew 6
Today is Super Tuesday. Ra-ra-ra; whoop-di-do. To be honest, this time around the whole election cycle leaves me feeling a mixture of cynical and embarrassed. In 2012, and for the first time in my life, I’m not that excited about my privilege to vote.
First, a little background. I grew up, as most of you know, in the south of England. The year I turned 18 was the first General Election after the voting age was lowered from 21. That made me, when I walked into the polling station early in the day, one of the first ever 18-year-olds to vote in the UK.
The next year I came to the USA on a two-week visit and never really went home. Consequently, by the time I became a U.S. citizen on February 15, 1985, I’d been effectively disenfranchised for a decade! Then it was all, “Pity the po fool” who let me know they didn’t care enough to vote!
I’d stand up at church, at school staff meetings and absolutely anywhere people would listen, and I’d say my piece about the right, the privilege, and the responsibility we have to participate in democracy. I couldn’t understand how anyone could live in a nation defined by freedom and fail to exercise the right that so many good people died to secure.
“Freedom isn’t free,” I’d say. “What we have here cost something, and I believe with all my heart that it is both disrespectful and dangerous to turn our backs on a freedom literally billions of people would give everything to enjoy.”
NOT SO SURE: But now I have to say that most of us don’t have a clue as to what this freedom we celebrate really means. I’m convinced of this because I see people voluntarily giving away their freedom, with hardly a second thought, on a daily basis.
Decision 2012? It looks to me like the critical decisions have already been made, and it’s almost impossible to say “do-over.” I’m convinced that far too many Americans have already made the decision to trade their freedom in, exchanging precious freedom for another “payday advance” on what they may never actually earn. And students of history understand all too well that have those who have been given such unreasonable power seldom if ever voluntarily make the choice to give it back.
So I find myself asking the following questions:
- What’s the point of celebrating freedom at the ballot box if you have made yourself a long-term prisoner to short-term debt?
- Why celebrate freedom of speech when the only speech you listen to is so packed with lies and hate and half-truth that other freedoms are trampled on?
- What’s so free about imposing our interpretation of government on other nations, rather than encouraging the kind of self-determination that gave birth to America?
- And how is freedom promoted when those who make the laws consistently award themselves benefits and perks that are not available to the rest of us?
CONFLICTED: So I am honestly conflicted. Because a part of me is beginning to believe that all I do when I go to the polls is to put my stamp of approval on someone who has already sold out. Sold out to a status quo that quite literally robs the majority of its citizens in order to prop up an economic system designed to keep both wealth and power in the hands of a few.
Our much vaunted meritocracy seems to be morphing into a plutocracy.
DILEMMA: So here’s my dilemma. How do I effect positive change? How do any of us? Does my vote help, or does it – more truthfully – give a nod to un-freedom?
I’m thinking out loud here, and I’m extra cynical today because it’s “Super-Tuesday” and I’m still jaw-droppingly amazed at the level of hypocrisy and baloney that needs to be shoveled away before it’s too late…
…But – in all honesty – I really am wondering what I should do…?