Why I Love Voting
When you drop your ballot in the box at your polling place or in your mailbox, what arises - at least for me - is the sense that all is not lost. Not yet. Not now. You are joining many millions of your fellow citizens in making your decisions known, you are participating in this challenging experiment called democracy. What I want to say is: you are doing something good, not only for yourself and your sense of civic pride, but you are doing something for your fellow beings in this country as you affirm that we are a body of humans who share commonly held values: health care, economic justice, educational opportunity, women’s rights, preserving the environment, the curtailing of violence and death… just to name a few. Whether you belong to the herd of the elephant (GOP) or that of the donkey (DEM), you share deeply held aspirations with your fellow Americans, and an overarching vision to actually hold hope, and to imagine the betterment of our society.
When we vote, we are saying the following:
-I continue to hope for the best we can do for one another
-I continue to acknowledge that this country is a participatory adventure
-I feel gratitude for living in a country where we actually have the right to vote
-In doing this, I continue to manifest in the world my own deepest values
All good stuff, right? Not particularly complicated when you think about it. And the best part of this act is that it makes you feel really good about your place in the world, it brings a smile to your face perhaps. Or at least it did for me… I am tired of being a cynic and a snarling critic of the extreme right, though they give me ample reasons to respond. It’s hard to imagine NOT responding to the destruction of our environment, the withdrawing of care of our poorest most vulnerable citizens, to the denigrating of women and all minorities for that matter. But in that moment where I let go of my ballot I wasn’t thinking in those terms. Rather I felt free of rancor for a brief and lucid moment, sort of the way I become free of raging feelings when I meditate or play the piano, or walk on the beach. To be free in this way is definitely good for our mental health, right?
Because I’m a Buddhist practitioner, I know that this idyllic sense of ok-ness won’t last forever, and that the dark clouds of division and anger and ignorance will return to cast their shadows. And then again we’ll have to figure out how to hold all the chaos and the pain. But for now, as I devour my lunchtime artichoke, I will relish this feeling of an even tempered heart, a sense that as I voted I joined a massive long lineage of brave people who fought, struggled, demonstrated, and just plain waited in line forever, for the RIGHT TO VOTE.
When we wake up tomorrow morning amidst the likely uncertainty and angst about that uncertainty, let’s remember that the cycles of human history show us a continuing river of change. Things don’t go up unless they’ve gone down, and so on… And as long as we choose to take part in the participatory experiment, we can be assured that change will be upon us, and that we will be a part of that change.
With immense gratitude to all who rose up and voiced their will today, and for those who didn’t, well there’s always 2020!