In my neighborhood, we all gather at the small Baptist church to vote. We come and line up, all of us representing different party affiliations. I love this moment, and sometimes I’ve even been known to cry right there in the line.
I’m one very tiny voice in a very large democracy. My ballot represents my voice in this system, and I come out of duty. Here we are–all of us together–participating in this supreme right of citizenship.
I’m in line, and I notice that nothing is happening. We aren’t moving along. I look ahead, and I see an elderly woman so hunched over with age that nobody can see her face. She’s propped up by a helper on her left and a cane in her right hand. Her movements are painfully slow. The folks working the polls stop everything to assist her. A chorus of helpers ask: Can she make it over to her booth? Is the booth too high? Can she hold the pen and cast her vote?
It’s like slow motion. When we observe her, we all start rooting for her. Volunteers call her by name to make sure she can reach the booth. We are all participating in this moment now. This woman needs to cast her vote. Nothing will thwart her. The moment takes on a weight I wasn’t prepared to experience.
It’s a beautiful moment. I feel suddenly aware of my own lack of interest in this particular election. I’m aware of how inconvenient it felt for me to drive over to the church and stand in line. I’m saddened by the fact that I had to print out a voter’s guide because I didn’t recognize half the names of the candidates on the ballot.
The woman who nobody could stop from voting has a name and a story. She has an opinion and a voice that shapes our nation. Her presence makes me realize another way I want to live with flair. I need to show up and participate as a citizen. And I need to help others do the same. You have a name, an opinion, and a story we need to hear to help make our nation great.