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Dr. Judith Rich Headshot

Why Your Vote Matters More Than You Think

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Just in case anyone reading this is planning not to vote on Nov. 4, I'd like to have a little chat with you. And for those who are voting, please keep reading. Let's have a talk about the bigger picture reason why your vote matters more than you realize.

On Nov. 4th, we all have the opportunity to exercise our rights as citizens and cast our ballots for the person we think will best guide us through the next four years and perhaps beyond. None of us knows what the outcome will be. But each of us who votes does so with our hearts, minds, and prayers in the hopes that whichever candidate wins, he (and someday she) will be a worthy steward of the power invested in them as the leader of our country and the de facto leader of the free world. Only time will tell if that kind of leader emerges from this election.

There are still some people who plan to vote, yet declare themselves undecided. And others who have decided, and their decision, is to abstain from the process. As Americans, we also have that right.

I hear from some who feel they don't like either candidate and/or don't trust government, no matter which party holds the reins. "I'm sitting this one out", they say. If you're one of those people, please know that as you withhold your vote, you convey the message that your vote doesn't matter. That point of view may seem real, and based on how it's going out there in the world these days, it's tempting to become indifferent to the process. There might be a thousand reasons why you're convinced your vote doesn't matter.

But I want to point to something larger and perhaps less obvious than whether or not you vote in the presidential election on Nov. 4th. I ask you to consider: what happens to the human spirit if "you", the steward of that spirit, decide that your "vote" doesn't matter? The unconscious message being conveyed is "you don't matter".

In my experience of doing deep, inner work with people all over the world, what I see as the most common, consistent obstacle to living a powerful, creative, and satisfying life is the unconsciously held belief that "I don't matter." It's not that people walk around saying this to themselves. Most people are completely unaware they harbor this belief, but their lives reflect it.

It seems to be a universal experience in the human journey that somewhere along the road between birth and death, we all become disappointed or feel betrayed, we all have our hearts broken, our hopes punctured, our dreams dashed. At some point, we all feel misunderstood, mistreated, or misjudged. I've never met a person yet who, if they were truly honest with themselves, did not feel some version of this scenario. Who among us has never felt devastated by life, either by a personal experience or by something that "hit close to home"?

As you've read here many times: It's not what happens to us that matters, it's what we do with what happens to us that really counts". And if, in the face of disappointment, loss and devastation, you or I or we decide that "life sucks, who cares, why bother, I give up, my vote and voice don't matter", then the spark of life that is your spirit, your authentic self, the part of you that came here to wake and show up, the light in you that came to shine, grows dim and eventually, that light goes out. And then?

You die. Maybe your body is still walking around, but the you; you came to be, the unique expression of your spirit, becomes smothered under cynicism, indifference or resignation. This might sound like strong medicine to be doling out here and if you're still with me, I commend you for hanging in.

So before you decide your vote doesn't matter in this election, I ask you consider this question: where else in your life are you "sitting this one out"? Where have you pulled back, gathered up your marbles and left the playing field because you didn't like or agree with the way the game was being played? What relationships have stopped working due, in part, to your decision not to fully participate?

You might be absolutely correct in your assumption that not voting is a way to register your destain for the corruption of the process or the candidates. I would not argue that the process is without serious problems. Nevertheless, by not participating the process, you give up your right to have a say in the matter. That, ultimately, is the premise upon which this country was founded.

If you think your one vote doesn't matter, consider what the outcome would have been if our founding fathers felt that way. We wouldn't be here, for starters. Think of people who have made a difference throughout history. People like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Madam Curie, Henry Ford, the Wright brothers, Jonas Salk, Margaret Sanger, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey. Then there are the ones whose names most of us don't know: the man who stood in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square or the first person who actually picked up a hammer and began to tear down the Berlin Wall.

What's the difference between any one of these people and you or me? Absolutely nothing! Except, these people chose to matter. No one gave them permission. Many of them chose to do so in the face of far more difficult circumstances than most of us encounter in our daily lives.

As you consider your vote in this election, ask yourself if you matter, if your one vote; your one life matters. Be honest. And if, after careful consideration, you still choose to "sit this one out", check out that bench you're keeping warm. Bench warming, whether on Nov. 4th or elsewhere in your life, may seem like a comfortable choice in the short term, but in the long run, it is lethal to the light of your spirit.

Whatever your choice, either way, it matters. You have the final say.

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