Monday, November 3, 2008

Dona Nobis Pacem: Go Vote

Folks, the time is now. Tomorrow morning the polls will open for a truly momentous election. If you're an American citizen, you've registered to vote, and you haven't voted yet (in places where early voting is allowed), we implore you to get out tomorrow. Lines are expected to be long, and the weather may not be entirely cooperative, so dress warmly and dryly and bring a little reading material, or, better yet, chat up your fellow voters. Regardless of how you intend to vote in a given race or on a particular issue, the democratic process brings disparate people together every couple of years and asks for their opinion on the critical issues of the day. Take advantage of this unique form of fellowship to get to know a few new people. Challenge each other's assumptions and celebrate your commonalities.

I, for one, believe strongly that participatory forms of government are essential foundations for peace. This country isn't quite peaceful yet, and hasn't been for centuries, but we're further along than a lot of places. In the past year, we've seen tense elections in places like Bolivia, Paraguay, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Russia and even Canada. In some of those places, people died for their votes. In others, their votes were canceled out by corrupt authorities. In still others, people felt a real sense of liberation after all was said and done.

Tomorrow and later in the week we'll start to analyze how this election impacts issues of peace and social justice around this world. If I can swing it, we'll even get to hear from someone on the ground at the winning candidate's victory celebration.

But for now, your charge is simple: Go to your polling place, stand in line, and cast your ballot. And vote on everything, not just the next president. In my own neighborhood, the race for our representative on the school board could mean a lot for how justice expands through the local population. All these issues matter; that's why they're on the ballot. Go out and vote your conscience, and thereby grant us peace.

EDIT: Persons in some corners are expressing concerns about voter suppression. If you experience trouble at the polls (e.g. your registration or ballot are challenged) and you think you need help, call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) and they'll provide assistance, including on-site legal aid, if necessary.