Sometimes another writer’s work is so close to my own thinking, I can’t help but wonder if they have been secretly hanging out inside my head. This week’s “WRighteous” column by Amy Ferris is one of those pieces. I envy her boldness, her directness, her ability to capture the multiple contradictions so evident in our divided America, speaking truth to power in such a creative, articulate way. I sometimes hesitate to share my more powerful poems, worrying too much about whether people will think they are too strident, or too “political.” But a wise woman once told me, “Change comes when the pain of change is less than the pain of staying the same.” Our country is in so much pain right now. An effective way to ease the pain is to find our voice, find our courage, and be as bold in speaking truth to power as Amy Ferris is. I’ll try to be bolder–and I hope you will try too.
I’ve been so overwhelmed lately. Overwhelmed by the violence. Overwhelmed by the hate. Overwhelmed by both the “ends justify the means” political rhetoric of the man who sits in the White House and the complicit silence of Republican leaders in response. I’m an introvert, so my natural tendency when overwhelmed is to retreat. But as Amy Ferris wrote so eloquently last Friday, “…these are not times to hide.” Thank you, Amy, for helping me break free of my little cocoon. Next Tuesday is Election Day. May decency prevail. May democracy prevail. May we all break free from our little cocoons and raise a ruckus to make it so.
Darkness surrounding, enveloping
Ensuring security, safety in being alone
Black walls block distractions
No judgements, no shaming
Nothing inhibiting penetrates
Breathe in courage, building
Breathe out fear, releasing
Emergence is coming
Dimness yielding to light
Inner power too much to contain
Time to go
Sometimes I have trouble finding my voice as a writer–until something really bothers me. It is then, in the midst of frustration, anger, disappointment, sadness, disbelief, shock…that words flow almost effortlessly from my pen to paper. Writing is one way I use my voice. Voting is another.
You may have heard that there’s an election coming up in the United States. (And if you haven’t heard, where have you been? I may want to go there some day!) It’s tempting to think our vote doesn’t count, but I know from experience that’s not true. I have witnessed a mayor’s race in a medium-sized city be decided by only 11 votes. Some races have ended in a tie, causing candidates to draw straws or roll a die to determine the winner. Anyone else remember those close Bush v. Gore hanging chad results that had to be resolved by the Supreme Court? Our democracy requires “we the people” to have a voice in deciding who represent our interests. We have a voice in determining what kind of nation America will be through our elected representatives. Our vote is that voice.
The voter registration deadline has already passed in many states (including Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas), and will close tomorrow in a few others (New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma). Depending on where you live, it may not be too late to register. In most cases it can be done online. Visit vote.org for a state-by-state directory of deadlines and requirements. The clock is ticking, so don’t wait.
The only time your vote doesn’t count is when you don’t cast it. And you can’t cast it if you aren’t registered.