In this election year, the challenges we face as a nation are significant. As I head to the polls today, my heart is full of thoughts about rising poverty and the ongoing economic recovery, the urgency of developing a sustainable energy policy and addressing the crisis of climate change, the need to establish a fair, humane immigration policy, the need for quality public education that is accessible for all children, the struggle for a just peace in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East and regions around the world, to name only a few issues. I think of state ballot initiatives that present voters with critical decisions about reproductive choice, marriage equality and voter id laws, among many others.
Divisive, inflammatory campaign rhetoric and "sound-bite" politics have caused some people to turn away from the polling booth out of cynicism, disappointment and resignation. Whenever I encounter such sentiment, I remember my many and varied encounters with people around the world who remind me of the power and responsibility I have as an eligible voter in the United States. It is a power and responsibility that reaches from my local school district to the lives of school children half way around the world.
If nothing else, the global economic, environmental and political challenges before us should make clear that we are, as Martin Luther King, Jr. declared, “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality” – what happens in one part of the world ripples around the globe. As we face the decisions of Election Day, there are reminders all around us that we are truly in this together. At the very time when fear and despair might lead many to draw lines, "circle the wagons," put up walls and fences and boundaries of every kind, it is now when we most need to engage with each other in shared struggle within an understanding of our common humanity.
Will my vote make a difference? The one thing I know is that if I don't vote, I lose a chance to be heard and to participate in that shared struggle. Maybe not the only opportunity, but an important one just the same. And big money will win. So I opt for voting, and working for justice in whatever other ways I can. I opt for voting and then showing up the next day and the next day and the day after that to hold those elected accountable for serving the common good and striving for the highest level of cooperation and not the lowest common denominator.
|Ms. Sandra Sorenson is the Director of the Washington Office Program Team of the UCC’s Justice And Witness Ministries, based in Washington, D.C.|