As a child in Los Angeles, our home was the polling place for my neighborhood. At least twice a year I'd awaken to lines of neighbors filing in and out of our downstairs area in order to cast their ballots. Political discussions were always ringing in my ears. President Jimmy Carter and President Ronald Reagan were names that I heard regularly at our dinner table.
And I had always thought that my family was "bi-partisan," more interested in the process than the positions, until the day that my aunt decided to complete my sample ballot, indicating that I was to vote for Michael Dukakis. It was my first presidential election, and my Christian values had me leaning toward George Bush. My lifelong passion for politics sprang from the divide I experienced in my family. That was when it hit home how important it was for an individual to have a choice, and to be sufficiently well informed to make that choice wisely.
My enthusiasm for all things political became one for all things Obama in 2008. I was one of those who gave my time, dollars, and energy toward the campaign, and I saw firsthand how Obama's candidacy uplifted so many citizens. Those who had never felt any connection with the governmental process were suddenly involved, rallying behind candidate Obama with their hearts, minds, and spirits.
Over the last four years I've struggled in my support of President Obama, but my heart continues to tell me that his policies, and not those of today's Republican leadership, are our best option if we want all of our citizens to have a chance at freedom and prosperity. I know that many Americans agree with me, yet the last four years of governmental intransigence have again left them feeling disenfranchised, powerless, and left out of the political process. But in reality, every one of us has the power to impact policy, and not only through our contributions and votes. In fact, every one of our lifestyle choices has an affect on how our leaders behave and the decisions they make. If we spend our money on an energy-efficient car, we're telling our leaders that we care about the environment, and that we want them to care too. If we close our account with a large national bank and open one with a local credit union, we're telling them that we're not willing to support a financial system that does not support us.
Most importantly, every one of our open hearts, our willingness to consciously contribute to the greater good, is critical to the furtherance of a truly representative political process. It is this truth that led me to write Open Your American Heart: From Personal Responsibility to Collective Accountability. Open Your American Heart was designed to inspire each one of us to awaken and be empowered. With an open heart, we must ask ourselves: "What do we value? What vision will lead us into a healthy and productive future? Do we desire to further the power of corporations and the wealthiest Americans, or do we desire a society where people are our greatest asset?" If we want to live in a nation that values its citizens above all else, then we must begin realizing our inherent divine nature and power to bring about change. Recognizing our divine nature would mean going within to ask ourselves what we can do to move forward in partnership with our president. It would mean rediscovering our passion, pouring out our love, and putting our American hearts into building a nation that serves the well-being of all our great people.