It’s always struck me as odd when people who deem themselves empathetic in the great expanse of their lives, lose all traces of empathy — when it comes to voting.
How people who consider themselves to be highly spiritual gracelessly slip off their moral high grounds and allow their values to splatter into piping hot pavements — when it comes to voting.
How people’s big hearts shrink to a the size of a shrub — when it comes to voting.
How people who are “wildly sensitive” — people who cry at commercials and weep when they see an animal suffering — allow their emotions to be numbed like a prescription drug — when it comes to voting.
“When it comes to voting I just think about MYSELF and MY family.” These people, these otherwise kind, loving people, say, suddenly rendered staunch and smile-less, arms folded across their chests like a shield. So the cries of the gays and the POC and the children locked in cages and the ghosts of the wrongfully slaughtered can’t sneak their way inside. Can’t crawl into their bodies and softly fold themselves into their hearts.
See, when something lives inside of your heart you can no longer ignore it. You feel it all the time. It’s with you all the time. It informs everything you do. It’s why mothers can miraculously lift up 4,000 pound cars when their children are stuck beneath them. Because they can hear the screams of their children vibrating inside of their hearts. The heart swells. And then the heart takes action. It becomes very powerful. There is no strength, like heart strength.
“But you can’t vote with your heart.” They say.
“Why not?” I’ll ask.
This when they clam up. They spew out words that aren’t their own. Their eyes go dead. They aren’t the same person that they were just hours before, when they were commenting on pictures of my gay wedding. Saying how beautiful Meghan and I looked. How happy. What an inspiration of love we are. Their eyes glittered as they typed. I could feel their sparkle through the static of my screen. Their belief in our love was (and is) authentic. Authenticity, like the heart, is very powerful. It’s hard to describe, it’s a knowing. You know when it’s there. And it was there.
But when it comes to voting all the beautiful bravado about our beautiful relationship, is suspended in the air. The love turns to dust. Something that irritates the eyes. Something menial, inconvenient. A scuff of the favorite sneaker. Something you can sweep up with a broom and toss into the trash.
How can you say you love lesbian brides and than vote for an administration that threatens to snatch away their right to be married? How do you compartmentalize your politics —
and your people?
How can you look your friends of color in the eye, tell them you love them, mean it when you say it and then vote for a person who told four American congresswomen to “go “back” to their countries?
How can you say you love ALL children, ask if you can hold a stranger’s baby, coo at the onset of their cuteness, gaze at their tiny hands with the warmest of eyes, and then turn to ice when you see an infant locked inside a cage?
How can you be an advocate for kids but disregard brown kids?
How can you say you fiercely believe in the principles of which this country was founded on, and then stand with a human who banned Muslims from entering our country?
How can you passionately post quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King onto your Instagram, bursting with pride and admiration for the man who put his life on the line for racial equality, and then vote for someone who, in a public forum, televised to millions upon millions of people around the world, could not — did not — condemn racism?
There are so many more examples I could give. But I won’t. For this isn’t a listicle about all the slanderous things Trump has said about all of us who aren’t straight, white, male, wealthy.
This isn’t even intended to shame anyone.
It’s a hope, I suppose.
A call to action.
To please, please, please look beyond your own backyard on Election Day. If you consider yourself a good person, act like one. Good thoughts do not make a good person. Goodness is active. (And is there anything more active than exercising your right to vote?)
And do you know what I think? I think that good people don’t base their most profound choices on what benefits them personally. Good people — actual, real, live, good people act on what’s for the highest good for humanity.
And there is no humanity in ripping children away from their parents, locking them up in prison camps, where they’re subject to abuse and disease and a loneliness and lack of maternal and paternal love that will leave gaping holes in their souls for the rest of their lives.
There is no humanity in aligning yourself with hate groups.
With “grabbing her by the pussy.”
Regardless of the god you pray to.
And yes, I understand, that these “life or death” issues probably don’t directly affect your household. You might not have anything to lose in this election. I get it. A lot of people I know do not. That’s okay. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
But what should harbor shame is refusing to consider those whose lives *do* depend on this election. To keep shutting other people’s realities out. To keep protecting your heart, refusing to believe the atrocities you see are real. To keep clicking out of the painful page. To call cameras liars. If that’s what you think, step into a hospital. Take a trip to the border. To a prison. To youth homeless shelters full of LGBTQ teens whose parents kicked them out. And felt empowered to do so because our current Vice President, the second-highest authority of the country, opposes gay hate crime protections. Questions whether gay hate crimes are real or not. Has a history of supporting conversion therapy.
I believe that when you step into that booth, alone, your rawest, realest self is revealed.
Who are you?
Who are you, when you don’t have your parents voices whispering in your ear?
Who are you without your husband’s convictions? Your boyfriend’s opinions? Your girlfriend’s long-standing beliefs? Your wife’s staunch stance?
Close your eyes when you’re alone in there, and come back into yourself. Your true self. That’s all I ask. Pause for a slender moment. Unfold your arms. Unshackle your heart. Let humanity in.
Because humanity isn’t about you or me. It’s about everyone. It’s about all of us. It’s inclusive of people who reside below and above your tax bracket. It’s inclusive of people of all color, creed, sexuality, age, gender.
See their voices. Listen to their stories. Consider their children.
And then vote.
Vote not like your life depends on it. Vote like someone else’s life depends on it. Because it does. It truly. Does.
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