I was nine years old, released from another school day, and aware it was a voting day. It was raining and the sky was grey as I almost fell through the front door of our house, like a soaked cat scrambling for a dry spot.
"Mama, what time did you vote?" I yelled, first thing.
She came into the living room, busy with some cooking gizmo in her hands, dressed neatly as always. She smiled, "I didn't vote this time, Jean."
It was as if I'd been dumped back out into the rain and thunder was crashing all around. I exaggerate a little, but not much. I was shocked and disappointed.
"Mama, you HAVE to VOTE!" I said, looking at her in disbelief at what she had done...or not done.
I'd be lying if I said that I remember if she did go out and vote that day. I can imagine that my grandmother, who lived with us, was not well; one of my two brothers may have had some crisis; Daddy would be home hungry for supper before going back to work that night. But voting was important to us. I knew this because every year for as long as I could remember it seemed I'd heard about "going to vote" or "who to vote for."
My parents were God-loving, dear Christian people. I linked voting with their goodness. I knew it was important without having any history book read to me, though later I got caught up on that.
What does voting have to do with Judeo-Christian principles? The Old Testament tells how God's people wanted to have a king. They'd never had an earthly king. Then, having God was not enough for them. They told God they wanted to be just like all their neighbors, who had kings. Finally, God allowed them to have one and that started the line.
The rest of the story is that God expected His people's kings to rule righteously. He expected His people to accept the leadership of their kings. He taught them that having their way came with a price: it involved responsibilities and changes.
To me this connects to us today. Our country's forefathers and mothers fought for independence. They wanted not a king, but freedom from an English king. Their success bequeathed every generation with big responsibilities-to hold onto that independence and freedom through voting. First voting was only for white male citizens over 21. Then it included white female citizens over 21. Then it included every citizen of whatever race over the age of 21. And many people of Judeo-Christian beliefs have no doubt that we have responsibilities without a king. We have responsibilities of citizenship, freedom, and independence-from any enemy foreign or domestic.
For us, the first responsibility of all citizens over 21 is to vote. It is not required in the U. S., as in other countries. There is no punishment attached to not voting, as in some countries. Yet, the implication for us is the same as for people that wanted God to give them a king. Every form of government has citizen responsibilities, whether obedience to a king or guarding independence under a federalist democracy.
I'd rather know God than any person or system of government. But I value to right to vote. I'm not saying it's a sin not to vote. Yet, if you live in an independent country where "we the people" has deep, basic meaning, isn't it a sign of good citizenship over 21 to vote?
Along with Biblical principles my parents lived, they also lived the importance of public responsibility through voting. I thank them for their wisdom.
Big elections are coming up next year, federally, state-wide, and locally. If you are 21 or over, are you registered to vote? Will you vote? If you don't favor a party, register or vote as something else, perhaps as an Independent. That's how I'm registered and have been for over 15 years. Maybe as my mother did during the last years of her life, you will vote by absentee ballot, with the help of family or neighbors.
You will vote, won't you?
Other resources: Voting without fraud