11.9.08

An open letter to Americans who don't vote

Seriously? You aren't going to go and cast your vote on election day?

What? It's too much work? You are too busy enjoying the rights and freedoms you possess in this country to take the time to educate yourself about the issues and have a say in the process by which your country is governed? Because it would be a shame for you to have to take some time away from watching your regular television programming to do some reading and make a choice wouldn't it?

And yes, I know what day it is. What 9/11 means. That's why in spite of all the other things I was going to write about to day I'm writing about this instead.

I'm not from the US. I don't even like some things about the US. But I tell you, if I could vote I would. My children are US citizens, and their futures will be affected by the decisions made on election day. But the stupidest decision I think it is possible for someone to make is to refuse to make one at all.

Do you have any idea what it's like to live in the rest of the world? Do you know what is happening in Zimbabwe? Do you have any concept of the incredible privilege that you enjoy every day?

You have the freedom to disagree with people, even the president. You have the economic freedom to make a living by whatever means you choose as long as it's legal. You have the right to own property. You have the right to not be taken away to prison without being charged and given a a fair public trial. People still disappear every day in China, never to be seen again. You have the right to decide how many children you want to have. No one is going to take you from your home and forcibly sterilize you if you choose have more than one child. Medical rape, I call it.

If you are a woman and someone rapes you your voice and testimony are heard in a court of law, they are weighty evidence against your attacker. So is physical evidence. It may be hard to face him, but the chances are he will be punished. Ask women in Afghanistan what happens if they are raped. Ask them how often they are able to find 5 men of good standing in the Muslim community to testify against their attacker for them in order to prove that it was done. Ask them what it's like to have a family agree to a suicide pact because that's all they can do.

You may feel cynical. You may feel that you don't have a real choice at all. You may feel that it doesn't matter whether you cast your vote or not. You would be wrong. And I think that if you choose not to vote, if you choose not to "Think about all that stuff that's just so stupid and pointless" that you deserve to have your freedoms taken away from you, slowly, one by one, until you no longer recognize the country of your childhood, until other people who care more have decided policy for you. And let me assure you that the motivated aren't always the ones I want making policy for the country my children will live in. I don't think that they are always the ones you want either.

I find it incomprehensible that people in this nation would be so apathetic and feel so entitled to the rights and freedoms that they enjoy that they would not take responsibility for their part in exercising those rights and making the choices that they have the freedom to make.

Someone said that "with great power comes great responsibility" but here is what I think is even more true. WITH GREAT FREEDOM COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY! What you have, here in the United States, in fuller measure than most of the world, is great freedom. And whether you like it or not, that freedom is a responsibility as well. Or that freedom can be lost.

If you really want to stick it terrorists, vote. Exercise the rights and freedoms that you have. Continue to value the principles and ideas that made this country so unique in the first place, and that make America what it is. Care damn it.

Is that so hard?

5 comments:

  1. Preach it, sistah. Amen and hallejuah!

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  2. I'm not from the states either, but this totally applies to all the apathetic Canadians, too!

    Where are you from?

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  3. phx-I'm from Canada. And you're right it does. (ps. Very hard to get Canadian news here in the States, I have to rely on podcasts.)

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  4. Amen! Well said, Carrien. We do need to be responsible.

    4 years ago, my son was born on election day. Pretty good excuse not to vote? Nope. My husband and I made sure we voted early!

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  5. Preach it, sistah. Amen and hallejuah!

    ReplyDelete

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