I didn't vote yesterday, because I wasn't registered. I read about the results today, and I feel utterly terrible.
For future reference, everybody (who's American): YOU NEED TO REGISTER 30 DAYS BEFORE VOTING DAY TO BE ELIGIBLE TO VOTE.
Now I know.
(I keep telling myself that I have not missed many French electoral deadlines, but somehow, that doesn't make me feel better).
Pennsylvania went Republican.
Nationally, the (fragile) health care bill is threatened, as well as public funding for education, arts, environmental research, research in general, gay rights... and loud Republican mouths are bragging about how great they are.
I'm swamped with work, and have been burying my head in sand. I'm probably not the only one. I didn't think of registering, and when I did, it was too late. But to add insult to injury, I'm guilty of a greater crime :
Under the pretext of being young, I have been cautious of voicing my political opinions. I'm weary of hearing comments such as "you're such an idealist" or "you're not understanding the whole picture" or "once you start (really) working, you'll change your mind". I also always feel under-informed, and don't want to be sucked in a discussion when I don't grasp all the issues at hand. But I forget that a lot of people (euphemism) really don't know much about what they're talking about, and maybe my tendency towards thoughtful doubt might, in itself, help the conversation move forward.
But more truthfully, I'm mainly afraid of not being liked by people. I'm that kind of liberal. The one who really sincerely believes in the core concepts of democracy, who wants to see society move forward, who believes in education, in knowledge, and in the power of the human mind and spirit to make the world a fine place to live. But I'm the kind of liberal who doesn't talk with passion about what I believe to be fundamental.
I'm not going to say I'm passive. That would be forgetting that I work in a non-profit arts establishment, that I help teach an after-school program in inner-city schools, and work with teens in emotional-support classrooms. I do my best to contribute, however best I can, to the community. And I don't intend, as I grow older, to get a comfortable job, make a lot of money and move to the country that will tax me the least.
But, in a world where communication is key, where little smart-ass sentences make the fucking headlines (excuse my language), I have to step up. I have to say, as honestly as I can, what it is that I believe to be important.
So here we go:
- I believe in education. I am appalled when I see that children - small kids - have lost hope in their own future because society - through the school system- does not give them a chance to succeed. I believe that schools need more funding while simultaneously need to think about compelling teaching strategies that are effective in today's world.
- I believe that poverty doesn't only involve a lack of money, but also a lack of opportunity. I'm as afraid of the concentration of wealth as I am of the concentration of opportunity, since it contributes to further inequality.
- I am respectful of religion. Having been brought up religiously, having many role models who built their lives according to their faith, I am aware of the importance of religious thought in individual people's beliefs and opinions. I do not, however, believe that religion - any religion - should guide public policy for the simple reason that our societies are composed of many different people who do not share the same religious backgrounds. I also think it's ok not to be religious. The best compromise we have yet come up with is the separation of Church and State. It's there for a reason.
- I believe in a person's right to live happily and to make the choices that work for him/her as long as it does not harm someone else. I do not think that being gay is harmful in any way. So why is society so harsh on this issue?
- I believe in a woman's sole ownership of her body, and therefore in her ability to make choices regarding it. I am pro-choice.
- I think people should be elected to office according to their qualifications, their clairvoyance and their understanding of current issues.
There's probably more to say, but these statements are the ones I needed to express publicly in order to stop feeling like a fraud, a closeted liberal, a coward.
Amidst the bleakness... thankfully love, art, compassion and understanding exist and force us to look up and see the beauty of life itself.