An Open Letter from Your Ballot

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Hello… it’s me, your ballot. 

We don’t see each other that often I know, but I thought maybe we needed to talk before the presidential election rolls around.  This election that is coming up, well, it’s kind of important. I hope you’ll take just a few minutes to consider a few things before we meet up again in November.

I know I’ve already met up with a few of you this primary season.  If so, good.  It shows you care.  So many Americans just take for granted many of the things that are either scarce or non-existent in other parts of the world… clean water, food, freedom and yes, voting.  I know you’ve seen the “Freedom isn’t free” bumper stickers, and heard all of the quaint, nostalgic slogans that are supposed to warm your heart and entice you to vote. 

But can I just be blunt for a moment?  Straight up… people have had their limbs blown off fighting to protect your freedom.  Others have been shot in the face.  Many, many more soldiers never came home, and their families spent every birthday, holiday and graduation with a tear on their cheek, an empty chair at the table and a hole in their heart because their loved one took their final breath fighting for you… for you.

That’s pretty heavy.  It should be.  This way of life we live is unique across history, and it has done more than any other in history to alleviate the suffering of mankind, while at the same time elevating the quality of life around the globe.  This is America.  Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.  So why is it that when it comes to elections we become the Land of the Party and Home of the Lazy?  Have we really fallen so far that when it comes to Election Day, people only vote if it’s convenient or if they are really angry? It seems more and more that when you come to the polling place to visit me, you’re committed to the candidate of your party more than the conviction of your heart.  I watch as you check the box to elect people to office that you wouldn’t allow to babysit your children or balance your checkbook. 

Many who stop to see me in November have made their decision based on the views of their buddies at the bar or their pals at the office.  Many more have allowed the media to craft a tale and spin the facts to shape an alternate reality that fits the worldview of their news outlet. I have to say, I’m not a big fan of either of these approaches.  There’s a third crowd that is even more troubling than these two… I hope you aren’t one of them.  This group doesn’t engage with friends or foes about the candidates.  They don’t watch the news or follow the media information.  They simply just show up and vote their ignorance. 

Seriously people… so many fall into one of those four groups:

  1. “DON’T GIVE A CRAPPERS”- Stay at home and miss the vote.
  2. “SNOW GLOBERS”- Voting based on what their narrow little group of friends tells them.
  3. “TALKING HEAD/VOTING HEAD”- Voting exactly how your new media outlet suggests.
  4. “IGNORAMUS ELECTORS”- Just pulling a lever, checking a box or pushing a button based on party alone.

I want to ask a favor.  It’s not a big one.  OK, it’s a big one.  Be in Group #5, the “PONDERS” Group.  Being in this group means following this simple request, and it comes in two parts.  If you could do this before you come to see me in November, it would be incredible.  Really incredible.  First, would you just go be still and quiet on a daily basis, and during that time either pray or just spend time thoughtfully contemplating what makes this country great?  If you are a person of faith, ask your Creator to give you wisdom about how to exercise this amazing gift of liberty as you step into the polling booth this Fall.  Either way, spend time… enough time… a lot of time thinking about how you will vote. 

Second, make sure your vote matches your values.  That doesn’t mean your candidate believes everything exactly like you believe.  It doesn’t even mean he or she agrees with most everything you believe.  It may mean that you vote based on what you believe is the greater good for your family, your country and for the world. 

Something awesome happens when you and I get together.  It’s not magic, but it’s really, really close.  So come see me this November.  Come prepared.  Read.  Engage with others.  Pray.  Listen.  Watch.  Think about all of it.  Spend some time “PONDERING”… that’s what you do when you think about something that matters.  So “PONDER”… then come see me. 

It matters.  It matters because you matter.

Please Don’t Read This, You Won’t Like It…

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASeriously, why is it that we’re drawn to bad news or negative information in the media and in life?

Is it because we’re overly concerned about those around us, and we want to help them through the hurt?

Or is there just an innate desire for knowledge, growth and new experiences, and that burning desire to be informed is what pushes us even towards bad news?

Could it be that we’re just plain curious, and can’t help but stick our big noses into someone else’s bad business to satisfy our need to know?

Although any or all of these answers are true at one time or another, I believe that the true foundation for our pursuit and interest in the harsher stories in life is this…

Fear.  We’re afraid.  Afraid of the circumstances, afraid that the same thing might happen to us.  We want to try to avoid conflict or pain so we sit up and pay attention about the family with the abducted child.  Our neck snaps as we slow down and pass the demolished automobile on the side of the road.  We stare in rapt attention at the flesh eating virus stories, the “house and everything else burned to the ground” news pieces, and the horror stories of those who’ve lost their jobs and used up the last of their unemployment check.

We’re afraid it could be us next.  It might very well be us next.  So we’re afraid.  But fear isn’t our only choice, it’s just one of them.

Choose Active Courage instead of fear.

Fear says, “I worry I might end up broke like that family on the news.”  Active Courage says, “I need to see if there’s a place I can send that family some money.”

Fear says, “We can’t swim in the lake or go out in public because we could get sick & die.”  Active courage says, “I’m going to embrace and enjoy every moment life has to offer me.”

Fear says, “Pull back, hunker down, protect yourself”.  Active Courage says, “Step out, lend a hand, take a risk to help others.”

No, your story may not get the news coverage or attention because it’s not scary, horrible or frightening.  But that’s OK.  Living a bold life and making the world better because you passed through is an awesome way to spend your days.  Leave the fear and negativity to others.