On This Election Day

img_1483If someone had told me
two, three, four years ago
that I would not be voting
in the 2016 US election,
I would have thrown my head back…
AND LAUGHED!

LOUDLY!

OF COURSE, I would vote!
It was a given!
I’d make it happen,
no question!
This was long before
I had any idea whose names
would be on the ballot.

But… I’m not voting.
That’s right.
I didn’t cast a ballot online,
didn’t go to early voting,
and I’m not standing in line today
in order to do my civic duty.

Now, before you either
congratulate me for not
succumbing to the messiness
of the insults, innuendos,
threats and accusations
of this election cycle,
OR
lecture me for my
irresponsibility – even recklessness to
be uninvolved in this
historic election,
let me calm your fears,
interrupt your assumptions, and
help you with your rising blood pressure.

Here’s the thing: I CAN’T VOTE!

That’s right.
If I tried, I’d be one of those
dastardly individuals who is
allegedly pretending to be someone
she is not!

Believe me: I had every intention of voting.
I moved forward in plenty of time – years, in fact –
to ensure that I would add “Citizen of the United States of America”
to my already beloved designation of “Citizen of Canada”.

But one barrier after another –
a collection of delays, a non-responsive elected official,
(he couldn’t know which way I leaned politically, could he?!),
as well as unforeseen circumstances left me without…
…a US passport.

I’m sad about that.
Not sad because I think MY vote would have
made the ultimate difference,
but sad, because the reason
I’m denied a vote is clear!
I’m not a citizen.
I weep for those who ARE citizens, but,
for whatever reason, will be unable to vote
this election cycle.

My inability to vote, however, doesn’t
change everything for me,
as it may for those whose voices
are stilled.

My inability to vote doesn’t absolve
me from participating in this nation –
one I’ve been honored to call home for decades.
In fact, my permanent residency
requires the same of me as of my neighbor
who is able to vote:
– I pay my taxes
– I abide by the laws of the nation
(well, sometimes I have been known to drive
just a little over the speed limit
And… I have paid my fine ON TIME!)
– I register my vehicles, and carry legal insurance
– While I may not be able to be on a jury, I can sit and I have sat in court, to be a presence in support of someone
who is under supported.

Dear US Citizen,
Today there is a gulf between you and me.
You have a bridge to the polling booth;
that is a bridge I cannot cross.
But just as I do not hold that against you,
I am also neither bitter nor smug.

No!
Tomorrow you and I
will be eerily the same.
We will both waken (or remain awake!)
to hear the same news,
though possibly “spun” differently;
we will be called upon to live within
the same reality.

And we will both have choices.
Some will opt to be dismal and despairing,
waiting for the next “told-you-so” moment.
Others will gloat, taking every opportunity
to bluster about how we’ve been saved
from imminent disaster.

But there is another option: one I hope to take,
even though I’m not able to cast a ballot.
I will keep on being who I am –
who I’ve been becoming for decades.
It may be easier or more difficult,
depending on who is elected,
but my choice still remains.

Here’s who I hope to be – and keep becoming:
I will continue to be passionately dedicated to
fairness,
justice,
love,
respect,
consideration,
safety,
grace,
and opportunity.

And
I will continue to support those
who work towards those goals.

I will continue to smile at the woman I meet in a public restroom
– the one who’s dress identifies her as
belonging to a different belief from mine.
I will continue to be courteous in traffic, when a vehicle with
bumper stickers I disagree with, cuts me off.
I will continue to be a silent and verbal
witness for those whose voices are muted.
I will continue to allow those who have
a different history from mine to help me understand
how my words, attitudes and actions perpetuate injustice.
I will continue to listen to people who think, speak, believe and vote
differently than I do.

Tomorrow we will be much more alike
than we are different.
You and I.
My commitment is
not to allow an election cycle to get me off course
– make me into someone I have never been –
I will continue. I will persevere.
I invite you to join me.

© Julia Penner-Zook, 2016
photo credit: Elliott Stallion via unsplash.com

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4 thoughts on “On This Election Day

    1. Thank you, Andrea. In many ways we find ourselves in uncharted waters requiring us to reach deep. There are no easy ways forward, but ways MUST be found. Turbulence is not foreign to countries of our world over the centuries; we would do well to learn from those who’ve been on the journey longer. I pray we can and will. Have a wonderful Sunday. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Well put Julia. “Grieving” is exactly the right word. I know everything is going to be okay. I trust our leaders will put their minds together and do the best they are able. But just give me a minute.

    Liked by 1 person

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