As I begin this writing we are are in the atrium of the National Portrait Gallery just blocks from the National Mall and the visual reminders of the heart of our country’s governing process and history. The Capital building is just over there, and the Washington and Lincoln Memorials are facing each other.
The National Election for President is in just about 10 weeks. An amazing process in American and human history. Will you vote? Does it matter? Regarding this opportunity, are you excited? optimistic? thankful? pessimistic? skeptical? cynical? sardonic? hopeless? I have actually heard some Christian people whom I value and respect say that they are going to sit this one out. They won’t be voting. Will you?
What is in a vote? A real, personal, subjective vote? To me a vote is a voice. It is a moment when each person can say “I,” and that is a reflection of God’s gift of personhood to each of us. I vote. I choose. I count. I am. I matter. What is the first word to Moses? “I.” In a classroom, every voice counts. And to have a counting voice is to have an “I” to express. Voting is a very personal act. Unless someone were looking over your shoulder, and if they were, it could affect in a changing way what you express, no one would ever know how you really cast your vote. (Yes, yes, there could be a hidden camera recording it all, and so forth, but given a real sense of legitimate privacy, there is a you that no one else except God has access to, and voting is an exercise of that voice—a remarkable experience that speaks to the special and unique nature of those made in God’s image, God Who also is a choosing, naming, Being.
It is also remarkable because of our history as a nation. We value independence, autonomy, self expression, individuality, and freedom of choice. Abraham Lincoln called America, our America, “the last best hope on Earth,” and by that he meant that we have a government of ideas that also values those things and is built upon principles of belief and action, a government that holds the right to select our own leaders to be inalienable. Not every nation holds this. Nor do they value the freedom to get ahead and pursue personal dreams for all of their citizens. Many nations are caught in the web of the elitist and entitled few, based on birth, and thus most of their citizens will never enjoy the benefits of travel, a good education, and the enjoyment of the best life has to offer. Not so here, for even the commonest of us can work, dream, save, and behave in a manner that allows us to enjoy experiences once closed (and still closed in many places) to those not well placed and members of the privileged classes.
We may not agree on all issues. We may feel disappointment and be tempted to a loss of hope, but we can vote, and stand up and let our own voice be heard on the issues we value personally! But most of all, may we use the vote of our voice and intentions to vote for God in our lives. When Jesus says, “All who will may come”, we can answer with our personal vote, “I will! And I vote for You in my life.” Not every 4 years but every day we can say, “Lord, I choose you. Help me to be a good citizen of Your Kingdom today.”
How will you use your vote?