a bigger picture – a better question

Wednesday, 7 November, 2012:

I’m not a political activist, pundit, or powerhouse. That’s why after voting yesterday, I wrote that the precious freedom to vote is of less significance than the precious truth that we are human.

This morning, 51.5% of voters are euphoric (to varying degrees) and 48.5% are despondent (on various levels) based solely on their personal answer to this single question:

Who did you vote for?

Several hours ago, the political map of our country looked like this:

2012 Electoral Map – 11.07.12

For entirely non-political reasons, I hate this map. Everything about it screams division and dissent. The non-United States of America.

I prefer this map:

United States

A person has to really scrunch up their eyes to pinpoint “my” place. The color scheme has an artistic air about it. The division lines are faint, more like the marks on a master blueprint than the “cut” lines on a butcher diagram.

This map is even better:

This one is better yet:

And this is the best of all:


I vote because I can. Because I have been given that right.  Because voting matters – on a temporal level, that is.

But I am not a pinpoint on a blue/red electoral map, defined primarily by my political leanings or judged by my voting record.

I am, rather, a pinpoint in a vast, immeasurable universe. I breathe because I live. I have been granted that miracle. Pinpoints matter – in spite of their smallness – solely because they are defined by their imago Dei and judged by undeserved grace.

The real question (for today) is not Who did you vote for?

The real question (for beyond days) is Who do you live for?

We, the people

Tuesday, 6 November, 2012:

Four years ago, I drove six miles south and voted on the campus of a sprawling Big Ten university. Walked past blocks of election signs, banners, and posters. Entered a stately building of architectural interest. Stood on marble floors between panelled walls. Waited in line for over three hours, along with hundreds of other Americans, mostly of the academic intellectual demographic. Listened to students discuss the meaning of life, unfair grading policies, and next weekend’s hottest parties. Listened to faculty analyze the economy, current social policy, and various threats to higher education. Voted my conscience. Went back to work.

Today I drove three miles east and voted in the city buildings of a small town. Walked past this single cardboard sign on the dew-dropped lawn.

Photo: CKirgiss

Entered the built-for-a-practical-purpose fire station.

Photo: CKirgiss

Stood on concrete floors alongside an impressive fire truck. Waited in line for eight minutes, along with 14 other Americans, mostly of the small-town senior-citizen demographic. (Lots of seed company logos blazened across the jackets. And the hats.) Listened to women  discuss dropping temperatures, holiday plans, and next weekend’s church pot-luck. Listened to men analyze harvest yields, fuel prices, and various threats to local farming. Voted my conscience. Went back to work.

I live on the border of two worlds. Two disparate worlds. Two vibrant worlds. Two worlds that, for all their quirky distinctions, are inhabited by fellow Americans – “socially constructed identities of gender and class” in the first; “neighbors” in the second – each and every one uniquely privileged to vote their individual conscience for what they sincerely believe to be the collective good.

I’m not a card-carryiing flag-waver. But today I remember why I am proud (and grateful) to be an American. Not primarily because of the political and pragmatic republic it represents, but because of the breathtaking and beloved humanity it embraces.

It’s really quite something indeed.

Photo: CKirgiss