In Your Opinion: Be A Hero And Vote

By Mark Greico, Somerset.

I am well into my 50’s, a time when you feel you are more than ripe enough to give advice on life to younger people. Most of it is the helpful type, like “Go home and take a nap, you’ll feel better,” or “It wouldn’t kill you to eat some fresh fruit!” But the last two years have been no laughing matter in this nation. Rather, they have been deadly serious, and many in my generation struggle to tell young people how to make sense of the madness we have all experienced as Americans. Here’s what I would offer:

I would tell young people this insanity is not who we really are as Americans. This slow drift towards fascism, the use of violence as a means of political expediency, the indifference to the sexual assault of women, the injection of lies, hate, and fear into the political dialogue, and the assertion that the free press is the enemy of the people, are not at all normal. We are usually better than this. We have been a light unto the world in the past, but now some in power have cast a shroud of darkness over the nation. That shroud, held fast by hands afraid of change and the loss of privilege, must be cast off for America to once again be a beacon of freedom for the world.

I would tell women, people of color, the LGBT community, immigrants, and non-Christians that this is their country, too. I would tell them that this nation is unlike any other and is exceptional. It is exceptional because it was founded not as a private club for white, Christian, native-born, heterosexual men as some on the far right would assert, but it was founded as the last great refuge of freedom and safety for all of humanity. You must do your part to secure that refuge, as others did before you, for this generation of Americans and for the next generation that seeks freedom and justice.

I would tell young people that even though I grew up hunting with my dad and I served in the military, there is a time and place for all things, including firearms. There is no place for guns or bombs as a means of settling political differences in a democratic society, something we still precariously possess in America. And a nation that is forced to have armed guards in its schools, shops, and houses of worship is in danger of losing the title “Great,” and is in fact experiencing a societal unraveling.

Lastly, I would tell young people, “Go out and vote.” The forces of oppression have long denied the vote to many, including women, the poor, immigrants, African-Americans and Native Americans. And for an obvious reason: they know the vote is the single greatest threat to their power. This is why foreign nations have sought to subvert our electoral process. It is why right now in some states the far Right seeks to suppress the vote of those seeking justice. And it is why the far Right looks to cut off immigration and the path to citizenship, because it knows those coming here seeking refuge from oppression are unlikely to tolerate it here in their new home.

Against the vote, tyrants fall, but not without a fight. True patriots know that and have been willing to lay down their lives to secure the right to vote. This is when the courageous, what Pittsburgh’s Mr. Rogers would call helpers, rise up from humble origins, meet the challenges of their generation, and advance the cause of justice. Voting against the darkness is an act of defiance. Voting for the light is an act of hope. Voting is an act of everyday American heroes. Mothers, fathers, show the next generation how Americans respond in a national crisis: with calm courage, a dedication to the democratic process, and faith in the rule of law. This is a nation in great peril, but its problems will be solved by ballots cast by heroes, not by the bullets and bombs of cowards.


Your Thoughts


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