My ten-year-old daughter came home from school this week and announced she was running for mayor of "J.A. Biz Town" - a mock town for their Junior Achievement curriculum. Today she has due a short speech on why she would make a good mayor. She started it by saying, "I will be a good mayor because I am mature and responsible, and I will be respectful to all the citizens..."
I have a long-held policy never to mix business with politics or religion. Today I find myself at a crossroads.
I am one of those people who watches election debates and ongoing coverage starting in the primaries. I read up on candidates - from school board to President. I vote for individuals and records, not parties or ads. And I don't campaign. Not even a yard sign. Yet after the debate Monday night... rather than my usual all fired up by the whole democratic process self - I was totally disturbed. I decided I had to shut it off until November... that all I could do was vote. Then I heard a voice in my head that reminded me - I have more than a vote. I have a voice. And I can't not use it. Not this time. It's too important.
Forget politics. Forget policy. Forget party. Here is what disturbs me. Too often it feels these days, I find myself in a conversation with my daughter about a classmate at school who is being a bully. Her feelings are hurt, and she doesn't understand why anyone would be like that. What I try to help her understand is that it has nothing to do with her. A bully is not confident. A bully is actually insecure - and the only reason they insult other people is to make themselves feel big - that they try to feel big by making someone else feel small, because they don't feel big on their own. And so you can stick up for yourself, but you don't stoop or engage. When they go low, you go high.
In my daughter's life all she has known is an African-American President and a potential female president. Can you imagine that kind of perspective? To her these aren't historical elections. This is normal. But what happens if that norm, if the next president does not believe you need to be "mature, responsible, and... respectful to all the citizens." What if the next President is a bully? Do we not think it will matter that our kids are watching? Are we really that desperate? I'm all for change. I'm tired of politics as of late. But this? This may be change, but boy I think we need to be very careful, and much more specific, about what we wish for.
What if - what if he wasn't a presidential nominee - what if he was a school principal or teacher or coach? And what if that "leader" loudly, publicly and rudely criticized a female student for her appearance or her weight. Can you imagine? Seriously. He would be fired so fast your head would spin. (Which is totally hypothetical since he wouldn't have been hired in the first place - because we wouldn't have allowed that influence for our kids, right?)
How it feels to me is that it has less to do with making America great again - and more to do with one person's need to fill a personal hole that will never be full. I was at yoga class the other night and it was really cool. The instructor asked us to close our eyes and visualize walking through a day where our life was exactly how we wanted it. Where we felt full. And fulfilled. And at peace. The question was how will you know when you are there? It's a different definition of success. The kind that doesn't beg for more. Because you can be a billionaire and a celebrity - but if other areas of your life aren't full - there will never be enough money or fame. You continue to need more and more and more. And so how do you fill that hole - when you don't look inside to be full - and you seemingly have it all (and Olympic gold can't be bought or bullied)? Where else do you turn for more money and power and status... to the most powerful job in the world. This isn't about helping US. This is about us helping someone fill a cup that will never be full.
I believe our country is great. Not perfect but great. And I know we may not agree on certain philosophies or issues - but I do believe we can and ultimately will, collectively, decide that although we may crave change, we deserve far better than a school yard bully. That if change is what we want - WE ALREADY HAVE THE POWER. No one person or party will improve our lives more than we can improve our own. The answer is not to passively wait for change to happen to us - we happen to it. The answer is not to elect someone out of desperation who we would not want our children to observe and emulate. The answer is to be confident and strong and hopeful... and DONE. What do you want? And how will you know when you are there? Take the first step. Know it's possible. Have the courage. Fill YOUR cup, not someone else's - because you are DONE playing small. And for the absolute love of all that is good and holy, get out and vote!!!
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