Just Your Voice
Thoughts on American politics after the mid-term elections.
I know a story of a boy with autism.
He was locked within the walls of his mind, unable to communicate all that was constrained behind the frustrating, impermeable flesh barrier. His father noticed that he seemed to calm as he watched Disney movies. The boy seemed especially captivated by The Little Mermaid (disturbing moral lessons notwithstanding). Again and again, he would cajole his father to rewatch the scene in which the princess has to explain - wordlessly - that she is the rapturous singer who had enamored the prince. She had sold her voice to the devious (and very creepy) octopus in exchange for legs. But she was the same girl.
One day, after watching the scene for the 300th time, the father understood.
It was just her voice that was gone. Just her voice.
The man's son looked at him, pointedly. He was encumbered by a body that couldn't communicate. But he was still in there. And he desperately wanted to communicate.
I went to the local auditorium on Tuesday to cast my mid-term vote. A smattering of candidates stood on the wind-whipped steps to greet constituents. I admired their tenacity, their hopefulness bright against the cold slate of a November sky. I didn't vote for all the people who shook my hand. But I still appreciated their willingness to be my representative in matters of state. I need them to be.
An older couple stood in front of me, but I didn't wait long to fill out my form in one of the little cubicles that bordered the echo-y basketball court. The issues up for debate seemed innocuous compared to some years. But I cast my vote. I feel like I'm rewinding, watching the same scene again and again. Maybe they'll understand me this time?
I want to be heard. After all, representation is no small job. Even school board positions are weighty - perhaps even more than I often credit them. They are the chosen few who determine what the peers of my children can access - from sex ed and abortion rights to race theories and proper pronouns. My oldest son will vote in the next Presidential election. Two years away. They - the ones coming of age under the leadership on the ballots cast this week - will choose the course of our collective destiny in decades to come. I shivered.
Often I doubt they hear me, the representatives who must embody the populous. Perhaps I'm the new minority - married mother of many that I am. A unicorn in the culture of self. I paid for my own college education. I value life over carbon footprints. I appreciate a job well done more than a job done for free. I'm proud to be a woman and I know the worth of femininity.
I wish those who must speak for me would too.
After all, I buy heating oil and corn-fed meat and drive a huge vehicle that makes even the diplomats discussing the climate crisis in Egypt frown from their private jets. And I grow my own organic food and recycle and spend more time maintaining the climate of peace within my home and neighborhood than frowning back at talking heads in private jets. I wonder if the winter will be warmer than usual. I wonder if some glacial family relations will thaw along with the globe. I like being able to chat with people in real life rather than being talked at from a 2-dimensional screen. Perhaps I'm not so different than the majority around me.
So much for being a unicorn.
Why does it seem that the voice only speaks for the farthest appendages?
How long can that last?
Is there a chance of life yet?
Hope of revival?
I'm increasingly dubious.
When life can be treated so cavalierly that the smallest citizens are flushed away like detritus and the oldest are left to rot in lonely retirement homes, the young generation is taught that truth is whatever the media claims and a mid-life crisis means changing your gender...
Perhaps I'd think differently from another corner of the map. But it's not a great view from here.
I feel locked in a dying body. Longing to be heard. Craving representation.
I'm still trying to communicate. I obey the laws of the land. I still vote - with dollars and sense. I still homeschool in the hope that the next generation stands a chance of resurrection. I still think I should be more involved with the local school board. I still pray for the leaders, whether I agree with their actions or not. I want them to live.
After all, I know a Guy who has power over death.
But am I witnessing the post-mortem writhing of a corpse? I don't mean to be a fatalist. But I found myself bracing against more than the chilly wind as I stood in line to vote. My hope is not in politics. But within politics, I still hope.
Perhaps the slow demise of a nation will cause its citizens to check the state of the union between their actions and their soul. I would rather see you in eternity, having lost a country but gained heaven. I would not wish anyone to splash haplessly in a safe and shallow country as it slides over a cliff. But the nation in question is my children's future - poised under Damocles' sword. So I hope they get the message.
Until then, I keep rewinding the tape in the old VHS recorder. The scene plays.
I am still here. You don't seem to hear me, but I'm in here.
And I want you to live.