Monday, February 04, 2008

"Why I am Voting for Barack Obama: A Contemplative Response"

What does it mean to cast a vote?
What does it mean to be President?
What calls anyone to act?
What thoughts and convictions are weighed before a person steps forward (to vote, to run for office, to do anything!)?
How does anyone arrive at a choice, a decision?
What are the core values or beliefs I hold about leadership, about citizenship?
What makes good leadership? What makes a good citizen? What makes a good human being, for that matter?
How is any of that assessed?
How do I measure my own presence on the planet?
What indicators invite or inspire me to continue on in my journey?
What is the role of Spirit, of Love, of Faith in any decision?
How do those factors differ from Hate and Fear in making a decision, or casting a vote?
What direction do I want to see my life go in? How does that compare with what I want for my community, my state, my country, the planet?
How do I vote?
Why vote?

Ohhhweee! Asking questions makes my head spin! But, these are the ones that surface as I wrestle with the words to articulate my reason for voting for Barack Obama in tomorrow's Super Tuesday Election.

Why vote for Barack?

First and foremost, I don't believe change starts with him. Or with any leader, really. I believe it starts in myself. In my belly, in my brain, in my heart, and in how I choose daily to breathe and act and be on the planet.

Since I left teaching, and struggled (some might say "failed") in creating an organization aimed at honoring the leadership and literacy of young people, I have wrestled deeply with some of these core questions about government, about leadership, about programs, systems, relationships -- and assessing and measuring the "success" of anything.

Time and again: I come back to this notion articulated so beautifully and simply by Mahatma Ghandi:
"Be the change you want to see in the world."
I have taken that literally to heart. It informs how and why I get up in the morning, and how I work to intentionally conduct myself from moment to moment.

I get up to Love. And be Love. That's all that I truly have any kind of power or authority over: my own choosing to be a person of non-aggression, peace, and - let me repeat: LOVE!
And then, at the end of the day, or from moment to moment, I get to measure and assess my own actions, by asking:
Did I work for peace? Did I perpetuate a kind of good feeling in my interactions, or stir up the bad? Do I demonstrate love? Did I? How did simply showing up serve a kind of joy vs. woe? Is breathing in a space and sending out good thoughts enough? Am I an agent of change? Am I enough?

So in my own skin, bones, muscle tissue, blood, being: I get to choose what and how I conduct myself, and as a former teacher, it's what I invite each and every person I encounter to do or be, simply by modeling it, Love, to the best of my ability.

So, Okay, saying all that, where does that get me in my thinking about casting my vote for the next President of the United States? (Or representative of one party, really.)

Well, what it does, is help me align my convictions, and weigh those of the candidates and examine how they convey their own philosophical ideas and lead from that space.

Do they inspire me?
Do they inspire others?
Who is working for the greatest good?
What is the greatest good?

I think my "bottom line" in this question, is that Barack Obama is inspiring and moving people to act on their own behalf. To be the change themselves. He said quite clearly to the crowd of 20,000 gathered at the Target Center in Minneapolis on Saturday,
"I don't believe change comes from the top down, it comes from the bottom up."
And that, my friends is a core conviction of mine, finding alignment with a presidential leader. And this "idea" isn't simply an IDEA, but is an ACTION, as I witness thousands in motion around this election. And: I don't see the movement, the motion of my own limbs, stopping with my own ballot being cast. I see my own momentum continuing, as I make my own small, transformational changes in my home and living, and find community and joy in those around me doing the same thing! I know change is happening in a powerful way! I see it! I am part of it! I am experiencing it!

I'll close this thinking and writing with an analogy that surfaced in an email to my cousin Derrick, a precinct captain for Obama, in Denver, Colorado. I shared this with him this morning:

As I was walking toward the Target Center Obama Rally on Saturday, crossing a bridge from North Minneapolis into Downtown, I pointed to the construction site below me, and said to my Aunt Trish, the Twin Sisters from South Dakota, and Ropan, the Nepalese engineering student, walking alongside:

"This is a metaphor."

The footings for the new Twin's stadium were poured, and these gigantic pillars of support were coming out up out of the earth.

"We are part of a solid foundation. Obama is leading us, cementing all of us together, in order to build this new thing where entertaining things can happen."

We laughed. But it's true. And Obama's message and leadership does not rest with us solely on this earth, as there are layers upon layers of our predeccessors, ancestors, leaders, that lie below and are coming through EACH of us, as we ruminate and ACT upon our convictions.

This construction: it's all an act of faith in the future.

Blessings on each of you as you discern your own course of action!



DigPic said...

You can view photos of Barack Obama and Caroline Kennedy on the campaign trail in Colorado at:

Katie said...

Very well put Melissa. I'll be with you tomorrow in spirit in the booth. hahahah think of me in the booth with you!

Love Katie

mamaalasmar said...

Just an FYI
At my caucus it was 51 for Clinton and 103 for Obama...Wow! Yipee!!