I don’t vote.
This is a personal choice that i am often chastised for. I used to feel ashamed when others would berate me and i’d feel the need to justify my choice with explanations, but I then heard a brilliant man say:
“If your conscience allows you to vote, then vote.”
And that struck such a chord with me as i realized my choice to not be a part of the system was no longer out of apathy (let’s face it, it once was), but out of a desire to shape the world using different measures. You don’t fight for justice by placing a vote, because no one’s mind is changed. You don’t stand against injustice by placing a vote. Justice comes from decisions we make every day in the way we interact with one another. Changing how we interact with our opposition is what has the power to bring about true and lasting justice. The polls enforce an “us” against “them” attitude that i can’t support. You may think it’s a great system, but it’s just not for me. Maybe that sounds ridiculous to you, but you’ll probably find MANY things about me to be ridiculous… including, but not limited to, my fear of birds, my hatred of fish, and my need to keep my elbows covered at all times. And many of you are sitting there saying, “If you don’t vote then you forfeit your right to complain about the outcome!” Ok, Voting Bully. Fine. Uncle.
During Obama’s run for President, a man canvasing in front of BiLo said to me, “Have you registered to vote yet?”
I replied in a most pleasant manner, “Oh, thank you, but i don’t vote.”
The man turns his back to me and mumbles under his breath, “Fuck you then.”
I get this a lot. It’s amazing how much hate some people have for those who don’t vote. They hate their opposing party, they hate the non-voters, and they hate any outcome that challenged their vote. There is so much hate that i’m often startled by it. Maybe someday i will feel differently, but i’m lucky to have the freedom to make up my own mind and i have made peace with my decision.
I felt it necessary to give you that backstory before i begin talking about anything politically related. If you think i have no right to address political topics, then now is the time for you to leave. (but don’t do that, cause i might accidentally say something you agree with and you’ll miss it) I might get a little preachy here… but since most of my blog are merely excuses to crack jokes, i think i deserve to climb onto a soapbox from time to time. Right now, my liberal friends are angry and disappointed that i didn’t vote and my conservative friends are glad that i didn’t vote… yet highly annoyed that i keep starting debates with them on Facebook.
For my out-of-state readers, let me give you a synopsis of what took place yesterday at the polls here in North Carolina. Amendment 1 was up for debate today. This amendment is trying to nail the coffin shut on the issue of gay marriage by stating “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized”. Other than the fact that this is a redundant amendment because we ALREADY have a law against gay marriage, it also refuses to recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships, even for heterosexuals. The whole thing is unnecessary. It hurts my heart and my head.
I’m a Christian. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church. I know all the traditional teachings about how homosexuality is not a part of God’s plan. Heck, in my youth i even TAUGHT those teachings in Sunday school. Most of my family and some of my friends still hold this belief. I understand the opposition to gay marriage. It is a tough one to swallow (that’s what she said). I get it. We’ll save the in-depth right vs. wrong Biblical debate for another day, but if there is anything we’ve learned from our past as Christians, it’s that we don’t always get it right. Those before us used the scripture to support their own selfish motives and fears. To assume that we are above that type of folly is narcissistic, ignorant and dangerous. But we do it every day.
And now for a few words on how i feel about MARRIAGE:
Marriage sucks because men can not be trusted.
That pretty much sums it up, but i’ll expound on a few more points.
When did a license issued by the state become synonymous with God’s plan for marriage? A state issued marriage license is not, and never has been, a sacred document. It is a legal document between 2 parties and the state. God is not a part of that document. He did not issue the document. He did not proofread the document. He didn’t even sign as your witness, so, as far as i’m concerned, you didn’t even invite him. That was a bad move on your part, because he’s probably the only one who can afford that new cookware set you registered for at Williams Sonoma.
We’ve allowed the government to have final say in the matter of who we marry and that’s a shame. Traditionally, a marriage license was what you had to get if your marriage was atypical. In fact, if the truest reason for devising a marriage license really points toward eugenics, then why are Christians so hellbent on keeping the monopoly on this licensing? Seems like we’re grasping at straws here in order to avoid any unknown variables that might cause us to reevaluate our own beliefs. I get it though. Reevaluating your beliefs is TOUGH. First you have to break the news to your family and then you have to scrape that “God hates fags” bumper sticker off your Chevy. I can’t imagine anyone i know actually ever being that harsh, but being soft-spoken and using the phrase ‘tough love’ does not make it any less hateful.
I’m a pretty judgey person. I’ll admit that. And it’s way easier to judge the sins that i don’t do daily. I can throw many a theoretical stone at lyin’, cheatin’, and whorin’ it up, but i’m certainly not going to start talking about gluttony or jealousy. Of course, neither are any Southern Baptist ministers that i know.
CS Lewis, 2nd in command to Jesus, said:
“May God’s grace give you the necessary humility. Try not to think – much less speak – of *their* sins. One’s own are a much more profitable theme! And if on consideration, one can find no faults on one’s own side, then cry for mercy: for this *must* be a most dangerous delusion.”
Yesterday North Carolina voters proved that they were more concerned with someone else’s sin than their own. It seems as though NC is going to be stuck with an ugly stain on its constitution for a while, because Amendment 1 did indeed pass last night. My heart aches for so many i know who are such amazing citizens and probably way better at paying their taxes than i am. There are only a few times in my life when my non-voter status really feels like a burden. This is one of those. But all is not lost. I’ve been a part of many debates this month about this amendment (as well as homosexuality in general, because, let’s face it, in a Christian conversation it will always come back to that). No one walked away with a changed heart, but some DID walk away with enough questions that they opted not to vote for the amendment. Others, however, simply inspired me to give them a roundhouse kick to the jugular. I’m obviously not above being angered. The key is to not allow that anger to take over the debate, because once anger starts showing up, you start sounding stupid. I have enough problems avoiding stupidity when i’m level-headed. I don’t want to push my luck.
Today i see on Facebook that many of my liberal friends spent the evening unfriending the opposition. That’s a shame. There comes a time when you might be the only positive influence they have. Justice doesn’t have to scream from the mountain tops. Sometimes it is the still small voice of love and decency that takes baby steps toward opening minds one status update at a time. We all have plenty of time now to start discussions and engage minds on this issue of why Amendment 1 is harmful and those discussions begin with a “hi”, not with a “hey bigot”.
I was just recently part of an event that hosted a discussion on the topic of gay rights. One Charlotte minister (with an awesome bow tie) said:
“Martin Luther King said ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice’. I need to tell you that the arc of the Gospel is long, but it bends toward love.”
In one debate last night, i had my faith called into question. I don’t mind debating ethics, or scripture, or who’s the best Star Trek captain… but when someone questions my heart and my intentions, it hurts. That’s a hurt that my faith filled gay friends must feel 24/7. That sucks big hairy donkey balls and i’m so sorry.
I’m not asking anyone to join the other side, because i don’t believe that’s the right attitude to have. There should not be ‘sides’. The Bible uses beautifully the analogies of war to depict conflict, both inward and outward, but some have used that notion to create a battlefield with man to man combat and attempt to claim victory in the name of Christ. It is sad. It is nauseating. It is the purest form of what it means to use the Lord’s name in vain. If you are someone who voted FOR Amendment 1, i’m not asking you to ignore the teaching of your faith. If you are someone who voted AGAINST Amendment 1, i’m not asking you to join with your enemy. Signing petitions and staging protests are all perfectly within your right, but without conversation and understanding, it divides us even further. Both sides claim to be fighting for LOVE… but you don’t fight for love with venom and backlash. You fight for love with love. I hope we can take the time now to really look at one another and let the battle lines disappear.