How I learned that my vote matters.
For me, being a better American came through living abroad. While I loved my country. I also left it. The lessons began early and continued often. The peace sign was scraped off my car on the Yugoslav border. From the start of a thirty-year sojourn in Greece, the angry and sly accusations about being CIA and/or a spy were so absurd and so familiar that a laughing denial would not serve for longer than a sneer.
I had to open the worm can and grasp the slimy half absurd truths and beliefs about U.S. history of careless interference in the rest of the world. We have been misinformed. It’s up to us to get informed and accept that it’s our duty, not just to be loyal, but to question, be informed, act on making and choosing the policies we are responsible for. We are not soldiers who must attack or defend. Our duties are more serious and more varied. We must behave as leaders, even as we are good followers.
Most basically we must hold our civic rights as dear as our lives. Since the quality of our lives, and of our neighbors - a planet full, and descendants depends upon our making the best choices. Not just for our family, our neighborhood, our race or religion, but for a world where our choices about leaders have profound effect on every human on the earth.
This is responsibility number one. If you believe it boring, onerous, or annoying, ask yourself this:
How much discomfort can you endure so that no soldiers or guardians are tasked to take up a lethal weapon in your name to commit an act that is in support of a regime that is promoting a program that is harmful, dangerous, uninformed, and costly in countless ways?
Can you face the angry and pained questions that the American abroad gets every day?
I’ll list a short sample:
Did you know that the U.S. supported (Insert just about any world leader’s name here) before they didn’t support him?
Did you know that your embassy has refused my friend a visa to travel for medical treatment?
Why did your president insult our prime minister?
Defend our enemies? Forget our country was part of an agreement? Think our languages/history/heroes/stock market/laws are stupid/unimportant/corrupt?
Aren’t you ashamed that your president made a joke about our economic suffering?
Is your president crazy?
Did you know that the US planned to kill..,Malcom X, Castro, Che, Lumumba, Lambrakis, MLK, Kennedy.....? (This list is long.)
Love of country cannot be blind, and be love. If it’s fear or hate that your country inspires, or that you wish it to exercise, this is NOT love. Understand that perfection in the beloved is always an illusion. But it is an emotion that deserves to be a goal. Make your country one that you can respect and become more deserving of both love and loyalty.
It’s about working for a more perfect union.
It’s our work. Vote. Just do it.