Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Thoughts: Election Day and the Bigger Picture

It's primary Election Day here in Vermont. So I broke away from work this morning and made the picturesque drive to Pawlet to vote. Turnout is predicted to be low. Vermont is not a heavily Republican state and President Obama is not being challenged. The polling area, judging from the conversations around me, was full of a handful of Republicans, and a handful of Democrats who wanted to influence the Republican challenger.

I have a lot of friends who do not vote. Most of them have their reasons, which on the surface, vary, but which in the end boil down to the fact that they don't think it matters. So, for the next four years, they are likely to chafe under a president they did nothing to elect or push out of office. And they missed something else too. The ballot was full of local issues and questions. In the same election there were a host of questions about the town budget, about town officers, and about many things that affect us directly and at a local level.

While (Thankfully!) Vermonters are a pretty level headed lot and the results will likely reflect the general opinion this go around. It could very easily not be the case. A small group of people could easily move us to a place that we as a group don't want to be. And all who didn't vote will have relinquished the chance to make the positive changes in our lot.

But this post is not about the elections. It's just that the elections got me thinking, and wondering, how many of us simply live unconsciously, going with the flow of life, and don't ever step up and take advantage of the opportunities that life gives us. How many of us flounder and rail against life, when the chance for something better is right inside of us? And yet, like those who don't vote, we do nothing.

My life has not always been an easy one. But one life lesson I have learned is that if I want something to change for the better in my life. I am probably the one who will have to instigate it. I am the one who will have to reach out and try something. My taking the steps doesn't guarantee success, but it increases my chances of a positive change. And when I wait or just hope someone else will, it rarely does.

I don't like being the victim in life. I've let it happen in a few periods of my life and it has never been a good thing. Never. Let me repeat that: NEVER. When it happens, I feel weak, vulnerable, and helpless. When I step up, even when I step up and fail, I feel stronger, full of purpose, empowered.

Voting this morning is a symbol of that for me. I doubt my vote will turn the tide of history. But whichever way the tide turns, I did my bit. I stood up. I have a right to cheer or complain. I am not a victim of history, I am part.

And that is the same thing I want for my life. To stand up. To try. To make the effort, create the changes I want and not hope. God, I believe, rewards those who try. Maybe not always with exactly what we want (though often that does happen!), but with peace of mind, a sense of purpose, and personal power. I'll take that equation any time.


PS - The picture is of Pawlet's town hall, our local polling place. You can click on it for a larger version.

1 comment:

judy lake said...

Nice piece Tom,
It is nice to live a small community that our voices can be heard. Just look what we did with the Silent Auction. Just did it... and helped out neighbors.

Seemed like quite a few cars going by the shop today to vote. This year we had to announce how we were to vote. That kind of bugged me... in the past you took both and used one... seemed sort of invasive and of course everyone was listening... yikes.

Regrets I did not make it to town meeting, but after years on the school board it's hard to get me out to the democratic process....and those few negative downers would have pissed me off all night....tossing and turning in bed.
xo judy