Monday, October 20, 2008

The Beauty of Freedom

Today is the last day to register to vote here in California.

Some of you may be wondering whether or not it matters if you vote. Some of you may wonder if you should read on if your political views may differ from mine. I hope by sharing this story, you will have an insight into my heart on voting.

When I was in my first quarter at the University of Utah, I was lucky enough to have taken a course entitled, _The Beauty of Freedom_ by JD Williams. JD WIlliams had a love affair with the US Constitution and The Bill of Rights. To say that he impacted my buddiing viewpoints is an understatement. He helped me to understand that to vote is a sacred covenant that you undertake as a member of this beautiful United States of America. He instilled such quotes as, "Your right to (fill in the blank) ends where my nose begins." Additionally, he had these great moments where he would invite members of the class to "Go for the Ruby Stickpin and quote a scene from _1776_ with him. As far as I know, to this day, only Camille ever raised her hand during that moment. As our beloved J.D. Williams so brilliantly said, “Democracy is built upon the right to be insecure.” We are vulnerable. And we are vulnerable together. Democracy is a beautiful experiment." Sadly, JD passed away last year, and I'm sure my heart is not the only one empty. It is because of JD that I have never missed a chance to vote since I became eligible. Thank you, JD. Thank you even when I had to walk uphill at night on crutches to vote for a small neighborhood ballot. Thank you for giving me the privilege of honoring the beauty of my freedom.

To quote one of my heros, Terry Tempest Williams, "This is the path of intellectual freedom and spiritual curiosity. Our insistence of democracy is based on our resistance of complacency. To be engaged. To participate. To create alternatives together. We may be wrong. We will make mistakes. But we can engage in spirited conversation and listen to one another with respect and open minds as we speak and explore our differences, cherishing the vitality of the struggle.

Democracy can also be messy and chaotic. In democracy, every vote counts and every vote is counted.

When minds close, democracy begins to close. Fear creeps in, silence overtakes speech. Rhetoric masquerades as thought. Dogma is dressed up like an idea. And we are told what to do, not asked what we think. Security is guaranteed. The lie begins to carry more power than the truth until the words of our own founding fathers are forgotten and the images of television replace history. An open democracy inspires wisdom and the dignity of choice. A closed society inspires terror and the tyranny of belief. We are no longer citizens. We are media-engineered clones wondering who we are and why we feel alone. Lethargy trumps participation. We fall prey to the cynicism of our own resignation.

When democracy disappears, we are asked to accept the way things are.

Question. Stand. Speak. Act.

Make us uncomfortable.
Make us think.
Make us feel.

Keep us free."

I encourage thoughtful, respectful political opinions. As far as I'm truly concerned, there is always room for an opinion. What is criminal in my view is when a citizen wastes their opportunity to participate in the Beauty of Freedom. I hope you're all registered.

Thoreau wrote in his essay, "Civil Disobedience,"Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence."

Included here are pictures I took today of the Democratic and Republican Headquarters here in Seaside, CA. Tonight, I honor my right to vote and encourage you to exercise yours.

ps: Ironically or not, one of JD Williams most visibile students was Karl Rove. And me, of course.


Kaleena said...

I agree with you Esther!
I don't care who agrees with my political views, BUT EVERYONE SHOULD VOTE!

Sarah said...

Wow! JD spawned you and KARL ROVE? My my my...

You're "spot on". I'm sending my absentee ballot in today!! SO SO STOKED! I hope we get the biggest turnout yet this year.