My first chance at voting was right after I started college. I had that idealist, I can change the world, sort of mentality. On election day I even wore a homemade t-shirt with my candidate's name boldly written across the front and back. I remember being so excited to contribute, to have a voice and make a difference by simply filling in a blank circle.
I was pretty naive that day. On my way to class a guy in a pick up truck practically fell out of his car as he stuck up his middle finger and shouted "F&%$ YOU" directly at me with a look of hatred that I'll never forget. I got a more subtle yet similar reaction from lots of other people.
I guess I assumed everyone was as excited about the process and the potential of politics for our nation as a whole. Instead it felt like everyone used voting season as a way to put people in boxes and complain about the other side rather than do something good for the country.
I've never been as passionate about politics as I was that election season. When my candidate lost, I locked myself in my dorm room and cried for hours as I watched coverage. I had too much confidence in the person I supported. I'm glad, after years of searching for something to believe in, I landed where I am now. My faith in Jesus is where I put my hopes.
I don't use that as an excuse to remove myself from the world that I am a part of though. I believe in the right to vote and the importance of casting my ballot. I didn't choose to be born in this nation, but I know I am blessed because I was. It is my responsibility to take part.
And thanks to motherhood, this is the first time since that initial vote in college when I feel the idealist mentality coming back. I have a serious role in how our future as a nation plays out because I am raising children. Instead of promoting a thought process of us vs. them, I want to show my kids and instill in them a tolerance for other beliefs. We've come a long way in terms of accepting people who look differently from us, but what about accepting those that think differently?
I hope that my children grow up knowing that there is always opportunity for common ground and relationship. I pray that when they hear someone voted differently than they did, they will not have a visceral reaction to the mention of the candidate and stick up a middle finger in response to seeing his or her name.
I pray, for me, for them, and for our country, that they will accept diversity of thought and seek to love over divide.
And now for a break from the political rhetoric, here are some cute pictures of kids at Mount Rushmore...