When I went to the courthouse for early voting yesterday, I walked past a small rose garden in front of the entrance steps. The remaining roses – deep red, snow white, and rich pink sparkled with droplets of icy rain, the bushes surrounded by wet, fallen leaves. In the middle of the garden was a sign reading, “stop and smell the roses.”
That cliché but wise saying caught my attention. It seemed in stark contrast to an election season that has been frenetic, chaotic, and often times, repulsive. Was there anything to savor and appreciate about it?
Actually, there is plenty to appreciate if you think about it.
It gives us a chance to talk about the kind of world we want to live in.
A national election gives neighbors the opportunity to debate and discuss social issues and policy approaches that shape the future. Sometimes these discussions aren’t pleasant, but at their core we all seek the same things – the chance to work in jobs that satisfy us and provide for our families, a good and safe education for our children, peace with the world. These common desires connect us, and remind us we are all in this together.
It give us an opportunity to share our voice.
A vote is valuable. Pay no attention to concerns that your vote doesn’t count because of the electoral college or because your state is overwhelmingly for a particular candidate. Your vote is imprinted with your intentions for your life, your community, and your world. It is an essential particle of the collection of intentions that shape our common events and circumstances in the spiritual realm. Your intentions are supercharged by the action and appreciation of voting.
It challenges us to pull together.
There is a plus side to the vitriolic diatribe of political mud-slinging. We discover we can’t stand it and want something better for each other. Research shows that the most common reason people are “de-friended” in social media is because of political propaganda. We teach each other how to better deal with our differences when we take a stand against hate speech, and insist on more positive dialogue. We are still growing in this way, but we recognize that voting is a shared experience, and we aim to make it better.
Sign points to line to vote
This election season in particular has seemed difficult, and often uninspiring to me. But standing in line there in the courthouse for an hour, watching people of different backgrounds waiting to cast their vote, catching up with neighbors, listening to parents explain the voting process to their children, and seeing seniors cast their vote from their wheelchairs and walkers…I could smell the roses. In that line, we were community – and though we were each about to make our individual and different choices, our participation in the process was a cherished, shared experience. It was quite simply – love.