Yesterday, North Carolina voted on a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions, making a man-woman marriage the only legal recognized partnership. I was very opposed to this measure, and am very saddened by its passage.
In trying to make sense of my feelings today, I was inspired by Laura’s letter to her sons. She got me thinking about what I want for my own kid.
I’m absolutely crestfallen today. I was completely fired up about a political cause and my side was defeated. I feel with all my being I am right and that in time, public opinion will change. Gay marriage will be legal, respect and rights will be given to gay couples and fear and hate will not be acceptable. We’re, sadly, just not there yet.
This is why I’m writing to you. It’s a story about *caring.* It’s not my first political heartbreak. Right after college, I had perhaps the hardest job of my working life (for probably, the least amount of money) going door to door, soliciting donations for John Kerry, in hopes he would defeat George W. Bush. All of this will be in your history text books, so you’ll know Kerry lost. I took it hard, and it made me question a lot about how much difference one person could have. I remember talking to my mom about it and she, in a similar sad and bewildered state, said she had a similar moment when Carter lost to Reagan. You don’t win all your political fights.
But you know what? You have to fight, you have to care. One of the sentiments I often hear that make me crings is “I don’t care about politics.” Guess what? You might not enjoy the way things get done in government, but you must care, it’s written into the very fabric of our country. An educated and impassioned electorate is vital to democracy.
Have I lost you? Sorry.
When I think about my own mother, guilting me into driving 2 hours to vote in the 2000 election because I didn’t get my shit together to do my absentee ballot, and how grateful I was for the nudge when that particular election informed us all more than we ever thought possible how much EACH vote counts (well, not in Florida, but beside the point)… I begin to shift from the daughter point of view to the mother point of view. It’s important to care. I hope I can instill in you that value for civic duty that my mother did in me. I’ll take you to go vote with me (or, as you say now, “Mote”) and I’ll engage you in age appropriate political discussions. I’ll challenge your views, forcing you to be smart in your positions (as my Dad always does, not to give my Mom all the credit!). And yes, I’ll give you hell if you skip an election because you’re lazy.
As my own mother said to me in November of 2000, “People died for this right.” It’s true, they did, and today we easily forget that. And as unfair as some outcomes may feel (ie how I feel right now), this is the American dream. And only through giving a shit and being educated can we change outcomes that are just plain wrong.
I’m sorry, I swore. Twice.
I want you to be fair, to be open minded and open hearted, thinking about others and realizing your sitiuation might not be what all are going through and strive to make your country see that too. I want you to be logical and practical in the way you evaluate political arguments. I want you to defend the marginalized, fight for equality and justice. I want you to have a strong religious faith but not to let it blind you to the realities of the world, and to have that faith inspire love and compassion in you. Most of all, I want you to care enough to vote and be informed.