Doing My Part, Being of Service–in a Voting Booth!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, November 4, 2014

vote button

Doing My Part, Being of Service–in a Voting Booth!

Today was Election Day, across the United States. I went to the polling place, across the street. I was pleased to see that so many women—so many people actually care about elections. They actually believe in democracy. Representative government, on the local level, as well as on the national level.

But it hasn’t been that way for too long. I had two aunts—both recently died, each one an older sister in the families of each of my parents. Each of them was born before women received the right to vote through constitutional amendment in 1919. So, it was within each of their lifetimes that their mothers, aunts and grandmothers received suffrage.

I have heard stories of the extreme difficulties women had, in getting suffrage. Marches. Women thrown in prison. Talks, gatherings, rallies in a visible—public—place. Women thrown in prison. Entering polling places of that period, where women were not allowed—women thrown in prison.

I am grateful to those brave, persistent women who campaigned for suffrage. Voting rights for women.

As my mother repeatedly told me (and anyone else who was within hearing), exercise your right to vote. She advocated for everyone becoming an informed, educated voter. My mother was a political science major in college (she attended the University of Chicago in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, as did my father). She was thoroughly convinced that an informed, knowledgeable electorate was the foundation of a healthy representative democracy.

I’ve become more and more cynical as the decades have gone by, but I still hope. I still have faith in some of the elected officials. (I did say “some,” not “most” or “all.” See my cynicism?) My mom died in 2002, but I am still voting. And I am still advocating for informed, educated voters. God willing, I may be able to urge some people to continue to vote, and not give up, roll over and play dead.

I voted today. I tried to do my part. Here’s hoping.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Youth Being Kind (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, January 10, 2014

Little Houses Painting by Mindy Newman

Little Houses Painting by Mindy Newman

Youth Being Kind (Feature Friday!)

It’s Friday, and it’s service-time! Actually, any time is time to serve—as I’m readily finding out. Also, it’s time for Feature Friday.

I graduated from seminary almost nine years ago. Many of my seminarian friends are now actively serving in professional capacities. Including Dennis, who is pastor of Simpson United Methodist Church in Evansville, Indiana. Dennis and I are now Facebook friends. Not too many days ago, I happened to see something on his Facebook page that intrigued me. So, being naturally inquisitive, I clicked through and checked it out. “FREE HOME REPAIR” was the headline.

Since I was the volunteer mission communication coordinator for my former church for about ten years, I still have great interest in anything mission-related. This FREE HOME REPAIR appeared to be a likely mission opportunity.  I opened the webpage. “Work Camps – home repair youth mission trips” was the secondary header. Even though the snow lies thickly on the ground (both here in the Chicago area, as well as throughout Indiana) in the first full week of January, it is none too soon to make out an application for Team Jesus Workcamp 2014. My friend Dennis was encouraging members and friends of Simpson Church to be sure to get in their applications by February 14.

Youth volunteers doing hands-on work for a mission project is not all that unusual. However, a feature of this particular workcamp that caught my eye was that the work teams will be “representing many Christian denominations.”  How awesome is that? Different denominations, and all growing in their faith through service to others. With hammers, dry wall, paint brushes, tubes of caulk. Oh, and smiles, thankfulness, and gratitude.

As I said, the work teams representing differing groups and different denominations  attract me more and more. My personal religious journey is all over the Protestant map, with a sprinkling of other spiritualities, too. Added to that, my chaplain training was in several multi-cultural hospitals where many faiths are represented. I have a deep appreciation for that God-shaped hole that St. Augustine talked about, and have seen that hole filled in many differing ways.

I know, through first-hand opportunity, that service to families that include elderly, low-income and less-abled people can be rewarding. The experience of doing service in community with other people, plus growing in faith in God, incorporates this two-way dimension. First, the horizontal dimension. The volunteer workers become cohesive, sometimes cementing relationships that may last for far longer than the home repairs they accomplish. The workers can also build relationships with those they work for, minister to. Second, the vertical relationship. This aspect draws youth workers and youth leaders closer to God, and has the potential to release God’s love to many people. Not only to the workers, and to the recipients of the work, but also far beyond these.

This work effort is only one of so many in the United States. But for each family in and around Evansville that is helped, it means so much.