On Not Throwing Away Your Shot

James Tissot, Flight of the Prisoners. Image in the public domain, taken from Wikipedia.
James Tissot, Flight of the Prisoners. Image in the public domain, taken from Wikipedia.

By: Anonymous

I am one of those people that will avoid the election at all costs. I do not seek out any news of the election or its candidates. When I see a post about the election on my Facebook news feed I keep on scrolling. I was over it before it began. I do not consider myself a political person AT ALL. Politics. Ugh. It gives me the heebie jeebies.

But the truth is that I did not always feel this way. When I turned 18 I was on fire with a passion for voting, knowing your rights and exercising them. I caucused. I caucused like a boss. In my twenties I went around knocking on doors reminding people to vote. I put up posters and wore buttons on my lapel. But somewhere along the way I lost my fire.

I can give you every excuse. I am sure you have heard them all. Maybe you have used one or another a time yourself. “I do not like either of the candidates.” “My one little vote isn’t going to count.” “I’m freaking tired.” “This country is going to pot anyway.” “Who is president is not going to affect my life.” And it goes on and on.

The truth is I do not know all the reasons I could care less about voting this year. I am sure it has a lot to do with my privileges. But at the same time I believe if I choose not to vote for any of the excuses I or others come up with that I am acting out a kind of disloyalty, in a way I am breaking a covenant. Just go with me on this…

I consider myself to be patriotic. I love this country. I feel that one of my first patriotic duties is to be informed and to participate. But it is so easy to cast that duty aside just because “I don’t feel like it.” The readings in the Hebrew Bible this week centered around exile and return. I am going to talk about exile and our country on a large scale and a personal scale. I think one reason why people throw out excuse after excuse to condone not participating in this election is they feel that this is not the country of their childhood. They feel that this country was once or is supposed to be a chosen land and led by God in all His glory. And not participating is one way of lamenting that loss. They cry out “How”! In a way I feel like I have “exiled” myself. I have become disoriented in this hot-mess of an election and found myself on the outside.

This week I decided something has to change. I want to be reunited, reconnected with my privilege to participate in my government. Psalm 137, Obadiah, Ezekiel, Lamentations. They all used song, poetry and prose to stay engaged with their hearts, emotions, beliefs, griefs and hopes. I decided to follow their lead…. With rap. That’s right. This week I have been listening to the soundtrack of the musical Hamilton on repeat. Through it I have been learning more about the history of our country’s constitution and the federalist papers. I have been learning about the character of the men and woman who first led this country and what drove them. My fire is being rekindled as I turn to the past through music.

Maybe being on the outside of the election is where I need to be so I can feel the excitement, the fire and the belonging of the “return.” Just like in Ezekiel’s vision, “exile is not a permanent condition” (Michael Coogan, A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament, p.331). Neither is mine. I want to participate in my promised land. And “I am not throwing away my shot” (Hamilton the Musical)!

*Listen to this awesome song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwlBxYyjrqM

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