Live the Dream

independence-hall1d634dd113b0294df8db88c5695005d5Thank God today is the first day of early voting in Texas. I plan to take advantage of my right and my duty as a citizen of the United States by casting my ballot sometime this morning. In spite of the fact that I don’t feel tremendous enthusiasm for the candidates for President I still get quite excited thinking of the power that we the people collectively have. I have faith that each person will vote with sincerity and in accordance with his/her conscience. When we enter the voting booth we are ultimately choosing the person who we feel will best represent the totality of the electorate, not just a certain faction or cause. Choosing our executive is an awesome responsibility and one that none of us should take lightly.

Voting will lift a weight from my back. This election cycle has exhausted me and I sadly fear that even when the final results have been announced the bickering between candidates, parties and citizens will continue. I plan to assert my right to remain silent regarding the choice that I have ultimately made. I am rather certain that nobody will change his/her mind in knowing how or why I decided to cast my vote. My pick is now up to me and God and believe me I have literally prayed over what I should do on this day of reckoning because all of us will continue to need His help long after the inauguration next January.

For now I am hoping for a brief respite from political posts on my Facebook wall. I prefer to see mostly images of kittens, babies and travel scenes. I have grown weary of the divisiveness. When I tweet it will be about my feelings regarding the new season of The Walking Dead or which singer performed the best on The Voice. As far as I am concerned this turkey of an election is done and I just want to stick a fork in it before it becomes as dry and tasteless as the holiday meal in the movie Christmas Vacation.

Luckily I am determined to remain an optimist. In spite of all commentary to the contrary I don’t believe that any of us need to travel to another country nor will our own nation collapse. We may feel some bumps and get some bruises but ultimately we will get it right and settle down. It’s what we do. Our history has demonstrated that we have been imperfect many times and downright brilliant in others. Luckily our Founding Fathers had a fairly clear understanding of human nature when they set up the Constitution and all in all it has worked fairly well for us.

We won our revolution against one of the most powerful governments on earth and then set about the business of running our own country. The bets were all against us and we hadn’t been around for very long when Britain did its best to snatch us back into the fold. They burned the White House and bombarded our ports. Francis Scott key wrote a little ditty about that event which we now call our national anthem. Our leaders spent most of the first seventy five years of our existence arguing over slavery. At first those voices were part of a somewhat muted minority but it didn’t take long for the words of justice to be heard loudly and clearly. When an upstart Republican named Abraham Lincoln pushed the issues related to ending slavery a great schism erupted. Brother was fighting brother in a contest that would scar the nation in ways that we feel up to this very day. When we engaged in a war against each other once again the rest of the world suspected that our little experiment in governing was soon to face a tragic end but, they were wrong. Somehow we found the good sense to come together again even if with an undercurrent of discord and resentment. When the world wars of the twentieth century threatened humanity we became brothers and sisters once again. We argue and bicker like siblings often do but whenever push comes to shove we always seem to find ways to set aside our differences and carry on.

We’ve had our ups and our downs as a country. We took far too long to accept the idea that women should be the equal of men. We so tragically and erroneously held on to the institution of slavery even as it became more and more apparent that it was immoral. We pushed the native Americans aside and stole their land and way of life. We’ve made many mistakes and yet the evolution of our government has been continuous. We have made corrections and done our best to protect the rights of an incredibly diverse populace. Our work is never finished and as we attempt to fix things we often disagree on the proper course of action. We have enough belief in our nation to return to the ballot box again and again to voice our concerns and choose the leaders who will hopefully work for all of us.

One of the most moving moments of my life came when I was standing alone in Independence Hall in Philadelphia. I had lingered after the rest of my tour group had left. I wanted to really feel the spirit of those brave souls who crafted their Declaration of Independence on a hot July day. I stood among the original furnishings, the colonial chairs and tables. I thought of the men who were there. I felt the determination that they must have had. Every single one of them understood that they were risking their own lives in just being present for such an undertaking. Theirs was a treasonous act, punishable by death. Somehow their vision of a new kind of democracy kept them focused on their task. Even then their opinions differed. They found ways to compromise and build solidarity for their cause. They were quite audacious in believing that they might successfully break ties with the powerful far away government that did not appear to understand their needs. What they were suggesting was frightening and almost unbelievable.

We are the recipients of their great gift. We enjoy the benefits of those who continued to fight to create a more and more perfect union. One by one we are allowed to voice our individual opinions. Like our forefathers we must sometimes demonstrate a willingness to compromise and work together. Of late we are having a bit of a problem with that. My hope is that we will become so weary of the divisions that have are presently the standard of politics that we will find a way to join together again. Perhaps there is someone whom we have yet to meet who will see himself or herself as a uniter, someone who understands that the essence of this country lies in its willingness to respect and include its many points of view.

So for now I will dutifully cast my vote and feel the sense of power that my time in the ballot box represents. Then I just want to rest. The journey has been a bit too rough this time around. The cynical side of my nature has been tempted to overtake my psyche far too many times in the last few months. I prefer to remain upbeat as corny as that may seem. I’ll take the earnest efforts of the young people that I know as a sign that we will ultimately be okay. I’ll make my plans for Thanksgiving and once again consider my many blessings rather than dwell on problems. I know in my heart that the American people are mostly good and together we will carry on in hopes of fulfilling the promise that began in that little room in Philadelphia so long ago. Exercise your rights. Vote. Live the dream for which so many have sacrificed.