On Tuesday morning, my boys and I are going to go vote (my husband would be voting to, if he were a citizen). It's a short drive to the elementary school just up the road, but it's long enough for me to tell them stories.
I tell them about the monks of Burma taking to the streets in peaceful protest a little over a year ago, and how we might never know how many disappeared or died. About Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, locked in her house. About the military dictatorship that will kill and imprison anyone who tries to make their voice heard (I get a little teary).
Then I tell them how I watched, back in 1989, a young man in China block the path of a tank, simply by standing still (and this is where I generally start weeping in earnest). I tell them of people who risk everything for the rights we take for granted.
At this point we are pulling into the school parking lot. Sniffing hard, I tell my boys that it is to honor these people around the world, who would die to have our rights, that I vote every chance I get. That if I let my voice be silenced, out of laziness or inertia, I would be failing them.
And I tell my boys that maybe my one little vote, here in Rhode Island, won't make or break the national election. But if we throw away the chance to vote, as if it were of no importance, we dismiss the struggles of people past and present to get that chance.
We walk past the people holding signs for their various candidates (who aren't afraid of being dragged away by evil government agents), we walk to the nice folks handing out ballots (our friends and neighbors, who are doing their best to run a good and careful election), and I have to sniff again before being able to say my name.
"Voting always makes me cry," I explain, with my best attempt at an insouciant shrug. Because, darn it, it does.
On the way home, my older son says, "Mama, tell us the story about that wall in Germany that was torn down…" So I tell them a story about hope, that had a happy ending.
Today, bloggers in the kidlitosphere and beyond are blogging the vote--writing about why voting matters to them. Please head over to Chasing Ray, where you will find a compilation of quotes and links to those taking part. It's really neat!