i was by far the youngest person in line at the time, but the lady behind me was more nervous about voting than i was. she was probably in her early 60's . . . and had never voted before in her life. never. i overheard this as she was talking to someone in charge, so the info kind of came from eavesdropping, which would have made it very improper to question her. not that i wanted to know who she was voting for . . . i just keep hearing about people like her on the news and wanted to ask her what made her care so much this year.
say what you will about this election, for a politics junkie like me it is thrilling to hear so many people talking about voting and being active. i've taught during three different elections and (i think i've mentioned this before) never before have my students been so interested and excited about an election. (my 4th period class is determined to trick me into telling them whom i'm voting for . . .) i'm excited for them; it was the mike synar/drew edmondson state race in 1992 that got me interested in politics - something that has stayed with me my entire life. so i hope that is the case for my students. heck. i hope it's the case for anyone who has been 'bitten' this year. (for a really interesting piece about the power of voting, check out sarah vowell's open letter to mike synar written 8 years ago - a few year's after he passed away.)
speaking of politics, can i sound off on something that has been bothering me since i went to a meeting waaaaaaaaay back in august. i can? well, thank you very much. (trust me. this doesn't really have to do with the election.)
so back at this meeting, we were doing a miniature version of some sort of personality test . . . there wasn't really a test, rather we read the description of 6 different personality traits and chose the three that we felt most represented who we were. all 6 of the traits were admirable and hopefully included in all of our personalities, even if just a little bit, so nothing was really an "insult" on the list. for one of my traits i chose "open-minded." and yall, this is by no means me saying i always accomplish the open-mindedness, nor is it a trait i've always possessed (as much as i would have liked to believe i did). BUT, it is something i try very hard to achieve.
i honestly believe i'm a more tolerant person because i've spent the majority of my life surrounded by people who do not share my social views, religious views, and especially not my political views. and you know the "funny" thing? i am very close to and respect a lot of those people. so when i say "open-minded" i'm not just talking about my beliefs on california's prop 8 or being interested in learning about faiths different from my own . . . i also mean being open-minded (finally . . . after much maturity and many hard lessons learned) as it applies to talking and discussing politics and other social issues with people to understand why they think the way they do. for me, it's a big part of my Faith. "the greatest of these is love" and all of that. because, in my heart, what is a greater sign of love than working to understand someone else?
really. this all does have a point. just wanted you to see where i'm coming from.
so. me: constantly working toward, often times failing at, but always hoping to be open-minded. it's a huge part of what makes sarah sarah. so maybe you understand a little why i was offended when one of my table mates, who had chosen "principled" as her main trait, looked at mine - and with no recognition of how she sounded - said, "wow. it looks like we are polar opposite."
i knew exactly what she meant. she selected "principled" as a means of describing her Faith and yay for her! we probably believe a lot of the same things. but where we differ is this: her "principles" led her to believe that someone who considers themselves "open-minded" is someone she would find (i.e. judge) immoral. but for me, being "open-minded" is a principle - a moral - by which i try to live my life.
but that small turn of phrase she uttered has really stuck with me, even though i can't remember even what that meeting was about now. maybe a part of me wants to shake her and show her just how open-minded i can be. another part of me has just been very philosophical about what she said and my reaction to her, maybe even a little proud of myself. because in my past life (ages 15-25) i probably would have gotten into a huge "discussion" resulting in intense tension with her that would have made our department meetings oh so much fun this year.
so i don't know. for me this election is about change. but not just with the person i'm voting for . . . also, a change within myself . . . see. we can grow.
yeah. i put my degrees to work today as i stared at kids testing for FIVE hours. so i needed to have some intellectual thoughts going on here . . . please pretend that is what you just read. thanks!
be looking for: erin and sarah - autumnal extravaganza 2008.