Next month, on Nov. 8th, we are called to exercise one of our basic rights of citizenship and cast our ballots for the presidential candidate we believe will best lead our country through the next four years. When we vote, we do so in the hopes that whoever wins will be a worthy steward of the power invested in him or her as not only the leader of our country, but the de facto leader of the free world.
As the electorate, we have very differing views on just what constitutes leadership and the kind of country we strive to be in the 21st century. We are deeply polarized, almost to the point of, as some political pundits have called it, being in a "cold civil war". Whatever the outcome on Nov. 8th, there may likely be a significant portion, nearly half of us, who will be unhappy with the result, who will likely feel the system was rigged, the winner illegitimate. And the gulf which so deeply divides us will widen.
Many voters don't trust government, no matter which party holds the reins. "I'm sitting this one out", they say. You could have a thousand reasons to justify not participating in the electoral process. You might even tell yourself that your vote doesn't matter, that the candidates don't represent the issues that matter to you, that the system is corrupt, the fat cats on Wall Street run the country anyway so why bother? From that point of view, it's easy to become cynical and indifferent to the process.
But consider what could happen to the human spirit if, as the steward of that spirit, you decide that your "vote" and your voice don't matter? No matter how justified one may feel for not engaging in the process, when we tell ourselves that our vote doesn't matter, the unconscious message being conveyed is "I don't matter".
One of the most universally held limiting-beliefs that is an obstacle to living a powerful, creative, and satisfying life is the unconsciously held belief that "I don't matter." This belief is not necessarily at the forefront of our conscious awareness. While most of us are completely unaware we harbor it, its mark is left all over our lives. When deep down, we believe we don't matter, we live as one who doesn't matter. We cancel our own vote in ways that determine the ultimate quality of life we live on a daily basis. Check out your relationships if you want evidence. Relationships are the living laboratories within which our unconscious beliefs are played out.
It seems to be a universal experience in the human journey that somewhere along the road between birth and death, at some point we become disappointed or feel betrayed. We have our hearts broken, hopes punctured, or our dreams dashed. We've felt misunderstood, mistreated, or misjudged. Who among us has never felt devastated by life, either by a personal experience or by something that "hit close to home"?
If in the face of disappointment, loss and devastation, we decide that "life sucks, who cares, why bother, I give up, my vote and voice don't matter", then the spark of life that is our spirit, our authentic self, the soul that came here to wake and show up, the light that came to shine, grows dim and eventually, that light goes out. And then? Something in us dies. Our body may still be walking around, but the unique expression of our spirit becomes smothered under cynicism, indifference or resignation.
So before you decide your vote doesn't matter in this election, consider this question: where else in your life have you left the playing field because you didn't like or agree with the way the game was being played? What relationships have stopped working due, in part, to your decision not to fully participate?
You might be absolutely correct in your assumption that not voting is a way to register your distain for the process or the candidates. I would not argue that the process is without serious problems. But...
You still have your one vote and if you don't exercise it you give up your right to have a say in the matter. That, ultimately, is the premise upon which this country was founded. Thousands of people have given their lives so that you and I could have that right.
As you consider whether or not you'll vote in this election, ask yourself if you matter, ask if your one vote; your one life matters. Be honest. And if, after careful consideration, you still choose to "sit this one out", check out that bench you're keeping warm. Bench warming, whether on Nov. 8th or elsewhere in your life, may seem like a comfortable choice in the short term, but in the long run, it is lethal to the light of your spirit.
Whatever your choice, either way, it matters. You have the final say.