By Curt Thompson
Contrary to the title, no I am not writing about ghosts and ghoulies this week. We still have month before Halloween, after all. I’m referring to a different type of voice; a voice that many people around the world are not able to hear, or even speak for that matter. I’m referencing one’s own inner voice - their thoughts, their beliefs, and their viewpoints on issues. How they see the world, and also how they want to help fix the problems they see. As Americans, we are lucky to live in such a free country. We’re able to be heard on many levels. From city government all the way to federal, citizens have a right to make their voice heard, and they also have a say in how their communities are affected in the process of change. All of this is done by something we may find trivial, but something that’s been fought long and hard for – having the right to vote.
America was founded on the beliefs of equality, freedom, and letting every person be able to speak their minds freely. In the beginning, it was only white men who owned land that could vote. However, it wasn’t just white men who were in America. Slowly but surely, the movement grew to allow black men to vote in 1869. That was met with staunch opposition from southern leaders, and they quickly filed for a “grandfather clause” – which states that only those who had grandparents registered to vote may do so. With the addition of poll taxes, and literacy tests, the opposition against minorities grew until almost 100 years later in 1965 when LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act which made these tests illegal, as well as poll taxes. This is when everything changed for the better. When truly all citizens could have their voices heard.
We take this liberty for granted, at times. Not realizing actually how many countries still have dictators or still live under communist regimes where everything is dictated by one person. Often times if you have anything to say against that person, or their beliefs then you are often times exiled, put on trial, or generally punished – just for speaking your mind. In America, we’re able to have that freedom to say what we want. We have that freedom to worship whatever deity it is we choose to, or that freedom to sleep with who we want to; and for the most part, not be judged for it. But all of this hinges on people getting to the polls and letting their congressmen and women know exactly what it is they want out of them. They’re not mind readers; elected officials need input from the constituency to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible.
Which brings me to the end of all of this – if you have a problem with something that is currently happening, or want to change something in your community, you have got to get to the polls. You can’t just sit and gripe and yak about it. Talk is cheap. People can talk all day long but truly never say anything. Voting is a way for us to be heard, and a way for us to keep power with the people. But people get caught up with the idea of, “Well what’s my one vote going to change?” This is where democracy fails. When people start to feel complacent and as if they really have no say in what’s going on in their country. One vote truly can make all the difference. Even if things don’t go the way someone wants then, at least they tried. The only way to truly fail at something is to give-up.
Everyone make sure to register to vote and get to the polls in November. The First Lady of the United States was recently in town and encouraged all Georgians to make the polls in order to make a difference. FLOTUS knows how important it is. We should honor her request. It’s the only way you can be heard. Get out there, make a change, and make a difference in not only your life, but your loved ones lives as well. Use this freedom that sometimes we tend to overlook. It’s a freedom that has been fought over by so many people, so many countries, and we as Americans won it for our citizens. You have every tool you need to have things change in favor of you; all you have to do is use them. And with those tools, you can build a much more beautiful world because you have chosen to help create it,