Before I went to bed last night I was cleaning up around the apartment and listening to a podcast from Larry Wilmore: Black on the Air. I only discovered the glory of podcasts (aka free news and entertainment through my eardrums) this summer. Now I subscribe to several for runs, walks, long drives, and nights when I cannot fall asleep.
Last night’s episode was primarily a conversation between the host and Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood. They were speaking from an event in Texas with a crowd of supporters occasionally clapping or cheering in the background. And I listened from various rooms in my apartment as I put away shoes, sorted recycling, and tried to decide on an outfit for the next day (totally failed on that last one until 10 minutes before I had to leave this morning).
As I wandered my physical space, the conversation between these two left me also thinking through some of my ethical and philosophical space as well. By the end of the 58 minutes, I was not totally convinced of a new view on the world, but I was convinced that parts of my current view were missing details. Like I didn’t know that one in five women have utilized Planned Parenthood services. I didn’t know some of the restrictions on their use of government funding. And I didn’t know what would be lost for this organization if the proposed / killed / proposed / cancelled / proposed / delayed recent healthcare bill was passed. The recording was from last weekend, so they were fearing a death knell this week, while I toss cans into a bag with the comfort of knowing the bill has been rejected again.
As I tried to fall asleep, a math equation kept drifting into my mind: one voice, one vote, two hands. Now as I laid there, staring up at my print of a dancing couple on the wall, I could not figure out what this part math and part poetic phrase meant. One plus one does equal two. But there would have to be some funky algebra taking place to make voice plus vote equal hand. I had the algebraic equation but too many variables to solve.
In the light of a new day I figured it out.
One Voice -> One Vote -> Two Hands
Its not an equation. Its a timeline.
Every year in America there is an election. Its the opportunity for every citizen of the nation to advocate for the direction of our nation. Leading up to that November date, we should each be asking questions, taking part in conversations, and sharing our thoughts (with a good dose of respect and dignity). We should each use our voice to say what we think and at the same time, listen to each voice around us to discover what we don’t know yet.
Then, when that ballot comes in your mailbox, you use everything learned when you used your One Voice to create and submit your One Vote. There are millions and millions of people around the world who do not have a voice, a vote, or any way to tell their leaders what they think. It was front page news recently that women are now allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. The fact that is such a breakthrough reveals what these women cannot do within their nation. For me, driving is a pain in the butt. For a woman around the world, it was a fantasy. What would she give for my power to vote alongside any man in my country?After the ballots are counted and results announced, then it becomes time for the Two Hands. This is when we go to work in adapting and working through a new reality. Some years it is not a big change. Others, like 2016, it is world changing. Your Two Hands can offer encouragement, comfort, support, prayer, and resources. Hands are not made to just hang limp at our sides. They are physically designed to hold another hand, to pat a back, to share the load, to promise peace, to swear safety, to write to a legislator, to point toward help, to sign love, and every once in a while to flip off evil.
One Voice -> One Vote -> Two Hands
Its a yearly cycle that envelopes one day each fall, and requires involvement throughout the year to speak, listen, and act.
Who are you speaking to? Who are you listening to?
How are you acting?