I sit in my polling booth, my eyes still sleepy with exhaustion. My travel mug rests comfortably next to me; it knows it's my best friend. Man, I love coffee.
The florescent lights bathe the dingy, dusty room in an odd green hue. Plastic folding tables are crammed together across the linoleum floor, each table sectioned off by multiple large cardboard cut-outs to create mini-polling booths. The brick sign at the front of the building says this is a church, but, I don't believe them. I don't think Jesus lives in hope-less spaces.
I'm looking at this splotchy stain on my plastic table. Is it from my coffee? No, can't be. Ugh, gross – but I force my mind to focus. Focus on all these empty circles on this paper ballot. Immediately I'm transported back to that time in high school when I sat in a room and filled in circles for six hours. Some call it the ACT test, I call it a form of mind-numbing torture.
I look at this ballot and perspective just smacks me. It's like a lens that just zooms out of my tiny little world. In the shift of a second, my view goes from portrait to landscape - panoramic. The one where you have to hold down continuously on your iPhone in order to capture the whole scene.
And I realize what an honor it is to be sitting here. That my country, my government, values what I fill in on this space of paper. I thought of the time, which was less than one hundred years ago, where the lines to the voting polls consisted only of men. I thought of all the women who suffered and fought for this right that I now enjoy.
My mind begins to drift to our women in India, in Ghana. I wonder, do they have the right to vote? Does their government tell them that they care about what they think? As an individual, as a woman?
Women's rights activist and Supreme Court lawyer Kirti Singh says that women in India aren't given the same kind of food and they're not educated in the same manner as men. Close to half of the women in India are married off before age 18, and "they're only raised to become someone's wife," Singh said.
I don't know about you – but every time I read that, this little fire inside of me lights up. And this inner superhuman says very dramatically, NOT ON MY WATCH.
I'm joking, but I'm actually not. Because that's not ok. I wasn't raised to be someone else's wife, thank you. I was raised to dream, to build, to achieve, to lead – to help another woman realize, that yes, she was born for the exact same purpose.
“Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want." - Anna Lappe
So yes, today is important – vote. Please vote. But really, we vote every single day for what world that we want to live in. Will we support sweatshops? Or will we support companies that are building a better world, restoring value to women through work and community?
Every time you make a purchase – you metaphorically put on an "I Voted" sticker. Do the people and companies that you currently support make you proud to wear it?
Real talk – I thought about not voting this morning. I know, it's embarrassing. But I'm telling you this because it's honestly the truth – it crossed my mind. I thought about the line, about those minutes of sleep (and work) I'd lose, and part of me just didn't want to go to the trouble of it. Besides, I thought, what does my one vote really matter?
I think this is the greatest danger we face. Falling into the belief that our vote doesn't matter.
" Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
It starts with one woman learning how to operate a sewing machine.
It starts with one mother being able to buy groceries for her family.
It starts with one girl who believes she can make a difference.
Until next time,