Pick A Winner or Vote Your Conscience?

My earliest memories of anything political were in 1960 when John F. Kennedy was elected President. After the election, I remember asking my parents who they had voted for. I was shocked to learn that they had voted for the loser. To my 5-year-old mind, what seemed important was being on the winning side – to pick the winner, not the loser.

After many years and many elections, I must admit I have voted for many losers. This is not always something I have felt bad about.

Popular Contests

In recent years, I have had much exposure to Reality TV contests. Many of these involve viewers in the process of picking a winner. I admit I am not one who actually calls in votes. But I do take some pride in being able to “predict” who will win, or who I think “should” win.

We all have constant exposure to sports contests. Some loyal fans cheer for their team no matter what, but others take pride in predicting the winner of any particular contest. We all want our team to win. No one wants to be a loser, or be mocked for supporting a loser.

Vote button

Winning and Losing in Politics

Is our political process becoming much the same as these Reality TV contests? We have become so partisan. Are we so concerned about our party winning that we are not looking at individual candidates, their character, record, and stand on issues? How many approach elections like like my 5-year-old self where being on the winning side is more important than making an informed decision and acting according to conscience?

We have people taking polls, people analyzing and predicting who will win political contests, and news commentators constantly telling us these predictions. Before any actual votes are cast, we are told who will win. As the process proceeds, we are reminded daily of who the “front-runner” is – the likely winner. Is this a self-fulfilling prophesy?

Real Consequences

When someone wins on a show there is a celebration and maybe brief talk show appearances – the 15 minutes of fame. Then the winner goes home with the prize. The next season starts over with new contestants.

With elections we are stuck with the winner, who actually has to do some work for a whole term in office.  And they have to work with others elected from the opposing party. Real consequences result from elections. The sad reality is that we can all end up losers.

Reflections on America the Beautiful

I recently heard a very moving solo rendition of America the Beautiful. I will share some my reflections on America the Beautiful – the song and my Country.

Verse 1

Oh, beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain!

America! America! God shed his grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.

I have a vivid memory of a night spent in the wilderness of Wyoming. Above me was a full dome of bright stars. There were no buildings or mountains or even many trees to block the view. There were no city lights to dim the brightness of the stars. I stood in awe of the vastness of the sky and the earth.

I recall driving along a highway past fields of ripening grain as far as I could see. I have see the sun shine on oceans on both sides of our vast land. I am personally privileged to live surrounded by majestic mountains, some purple in the distance, and others so close I can enjoy them any time I go outside my house.

I am amazed by the grandeur and beauty of the landscapes throughout this vast country. I appreciate the variety of land and climate which allow for bounteous harvests of food to sustain and prosper her people.

Continue reading

Respect

The lack of respect I see in the world today disturbs me. I think ultimately the respect or disrespect we show tells more about our own character than about the object of our respect or disrespect. We need to be respectful for our own sake.

Respect

Respect is related to civility, courtesy and politeness, but I think it goes deeper than these. Definitions include feelings of esteem or honor as well as courteous behavior. We rightly respect those we hold in very high regard based on their personal character or achievements. There is a sense of duty or obligation to show deference towards those in high positions. Civility requires this, regardless of our personal feelings toward such persons. Respect also includes showing consideration for others and their rights.

Continue reading

Appreciating Citizenship

I just had the privilege of participating in a citizenship ceremony which has caused me to reflect on some things related to some of my Word of the Month posts, including this month’s word which is Privilege.

I attended a Court of Naturalization and witnessed a number of individuals become Citizens of the United States of America. My simple part in the ceremony was leading the singing of the National Anthem, which was certainly not a highlight of the day, especially considering technical difficulties with audio.

The highlight for me was when the new citizens stood and introduced themselves, telling where they had come from and their feelings about this new citizenship. In spite of, or perhaps more accurately because of, the fact that this journey had taken a great deal of desire, time and effort on their part, it was apparent that they did feel that this was a great privilege. They came from an interesting assortment of countries and backgrounds. There was a recognition that there is something special about being “American”, including rights and opportunities unavailable to them in other countries. There were expressions of gratitude for this new citizenship and those who had helped and supported them in their journeys. Some expressed excitement about new opportunities to participate and immediately afterwards registered to vote.

Do we who have been privileged to be born into citizenship appreciate what we have? Do we recognized that among all the inhabitants of this world past and present, we are among the most privileged? Do we appreciate the sacrifice others have made for us to enjoy these privileges?

Continue reading