Vote or Shut Up: Tuesday will decide the direction of our future
We’re all worried about Tuesday, America. It is the place our minds and hearts are solely fixed on. Right now our energies are understandably marshaled and our hopes pinned to this singular day ahead, as if at the end of it we will have some resolution, some sense of closure — as if healing and rest will finally come. But what if things don’t go that way? What if the news is bad?
At a recent tour stop, a visibly exasperated woman asked me, through a breaking voice, “What if everything goes wrong on Tuesday? What do we do then? If we lose, where will the hope be?”
You may be asking yourself that. I imagine hope then, will be wherever it is for you now.
Regardless of what happens on Tuesday, whatever propels you into the voting booth on the 6th, needs to push you to your feet when the sun comes up in the morning. Because no matter the outcome, and whether you feel vindicated or crestfallen — many things will still be the same:
You’ll still be surrounded by systemic ills and relational fracture and national discord. You’ll still have seen every grotesque reality that’s been uncovered over the past two years. You’ll still be walking shoulder to shoulder with weary, wounded human beings who will be looking for compassionate people to see their suffering and to move toward them.
You’ll still have a specific front row seat, to a place filled with terrors and traumas, and you’ll be the only one with your never-to-be-repeated ability to be what that world needs.
This isn’t about an election.
It’s easy to believe that it is; that with the pull of a lever and a transfer of power, that our security will be restored or our demise guaranteed, but that’s simply not true. We’ll still need to hold our leaders accountable and fight to be heard, and not fall asleep when progress shows up. I’d like to think that we are moved by something far greater than a date on the calendar or an election result or a candidate’s victory; that our elation or devastation do not reside in those things.
And ultimately this isn’t about the President either.
If he were to disappear tomorrow, we would still be left with the fallout; with every bit of exposed ugliness, every cruel word we’ve uttered toward strangers, every disconnection we’ve endured from people we love. We’ll still be who we are, surrounded by people being who they are — and in the resulting tumult, we’ll need to navigate the turbulence around us and bridge the expanses between us.
So where will hope be if it all hits the fan on Tuesday?
It will be you, finding whatever it is that is that pulls you out of the paralyzing funk of grief and sadness and disbelief you’ll want to stay in — and back into the fray of diverse community. It will be found in your faith convictions, in your personal burdens, in your activism and your advocacy and in the stuff you’ll still believe in.
It will be found in you deciding what matters most in this life, and whether or not it still matters enough to defend and protect it, even if the threats seem greater than they are now.
Hope will be in the sunrise, and how you decide to meet it.
On that day, there will still be hungry people hoping to be fed, strangers seeking refuge, outsiders needing welcome, wounded people looking for the healers. No matter what happens, win or lose — this is where you and I will need to place our energies and fix our gaze; on the ways that we can choose gentleness and peace and generosity, far away from the ballot box.
On November 6th we’ll experience one of the pivotal, unprecedented moments in our lifetime. We’ll have a chance to allow our voices to be heard, and to transform the very planet we’re standing on — as well as the one we leave to people who will follow us. We’ll get to leave an inheritance to those we love, and a legacy for those we’ll never know.
This particular Tuesday, we’ll get to let our lives impact the lives of countless human beings with one simple, yet profound act that we participate in. It will be our sacred opportunity to speak precisely from our deepest convictions, to let our hearts clearly resound into the world, and to know that we can be the difference in the day. In the face of a deafening fear that would gladly overwhelm us, we’ll get the chance to let love have the last, loudest word.
This is beautiful news, but the even better news, is that we have that opportunity well before Tuesday and we’ll have it long after it as well. As you read these very words, you have it.
Every single moment we’re here, you and I get to be agents of kindness and decency and goodness. We don’t have to wait for an event to choose such things, and we can’t be fooled into believing they have an expiration date either.
The gravity of this moment isn’t just about Senate seats and flipping districts and political victories – though it is certainly is about all those things. Yes, legislatively there is so much hanging in the balance this particular Tuesday — but the stakes are always similarly stratospheric, even if they are less noticeable.
The really critical act, is remembering that leveraging your life on behalf of others isn’t an event, it’s your ever-present calling. It’s about you and your daily ability to make this place more compassionate and generous and kind than when you found it. You get to be helper and healer and listener; to be an ally and an advocate and an activist. There will be no way you can lose that.
As you move toward Tuesday, don’t miss the countless opportunities you have, with every seemingly infinitesimal decision to choose (to elect) hope, well before you ever step into a voting both, and long after you walk out into the day.
So yes, please vote — but regardless of the results of the election, remember that you always have that choice. This week is the most important week of your life. It always is.
The original version of this Op Ed was published on johnpavlovitz.com