I'm all out of humor pieces again. So I'm throwing this out into the current political heat. I can't see many people jiving on it, especially with all the current fear. I even mildy question it myself. Yet, I still believe the ideology behind it is true even if the practicality of it - and our flawed system - make it hard to enact. (feel free to email me your opinion)

What, Me Vote?

by Scott Burton

Voting is good. Voting is vital to the very structure of our political system. Voting is our one chance to have a voice in the direction of our nation. Voting is necessary. Voting is essential. Voting is a good idea.

So why don't I vote?

Not only do I not vote, every time the political opportunity rolls around my neck hairs bristle and my ire is piqued. I perceive each voting year much the same way I view the new fall TV season: brand new shows and yet, somehow, they're still all reruns.

I am now over 40 years old and in watching the political process it simply amazes me that every two to four years we voters, like sheep, are herded into the polls actually believing 'well, this time it's going to make a difference.'

I am astounded, watching from the outside, that no one has noticed through years of grinding the political machine that nothing has ever come of it. Ever. We are still the same. We are astounded at the number of hate crimes in the world -- hate crimes have always been. We are astounded by the number of gangs in the country -- the gangs have always been. We are stifled by incurable diseases, threatened by war, moved to fight hunger... does any of this sound familiar?

It has gone on for centuries and no amount of political strategizing or new laws can break that cycle, no matter how long congress remains in session, even after we've used up all the available Kennedy's.

Why is that? Because any real change that can better this country has nothing to do with enacting laws, creating more jobs, or empowering anybody. The only change that can do this nation any good is a change of heart. A change, deeply and profoundly, in each of our hearts. A change that turns us from never having enough to never being able to give enough.

No political process can ever work unless the people within that structure care about one another. That is not a new idea and, to some degree, we all already know that. But it is worth saying over and over again until people not only hear it but do something about it. It's proven time and again that the actual voice of the Democratic system, the very individuals whom our elected officials represent, do not care much at all for their fellow constituents. Heck, a baseball team can be destroyed by dis-union and in-fighting, and there's only nine of them. What's going to happen to us 250 million!?

These views are never met with a kindly response.

When I mention to a 'politi-phile' that I'm not in favor of voting, they never fail to give me their "tsk tsk" face and say, "Well, I'm active in my community."

"Well, I'm sure you are, but, if you think about it, so was Jeffrey Dahmer. I've always thought how you go about it is the important thing."

I have a lot of people saying to me, "Well, if you want change in this society it's your own fault for not voting. You have no right to complain about your elected officials." This is a correct point but, what they don't understand is, I couldn't care less who is elected. If the system we have is true, it is the people who run this country, not the "leaders." It's fine with me if we pump a few thousand volts of electricity into his body and resurrect Lenin to run our nation. It doesn't make a difference. As long as this country's people are in dis-union, this country will be in dis-union.

We make such a big deal of getting our laws passed to grant each factioned group a little slice of political pie to placate them into thinking they've won some vital victory.

Won't that be a sweet victory when a gay man can walk into a professional football locker room, surrounded by huge jocks and rednecks and announce proudly, "I sleep with men." Oooh. One giant leap for mankind.

Many feel this political fight, this constant voicing of everything one wants has to do with some sort of freedom. Somehow they feel they can't be free unless the government says they are. There is nothing that can make me believe that.

Black America was free long before John F. Kennedy signed any civil rights bill, even before Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Beforehand they were denied many things the rest of society had and were treated with an inexcusable form of inhumanity but these people were free. Free to be excellent and majestic human beings (albeit in sub-human situations). Some took that freedom and made great their lives. Others bought into the forced degradation and lived bitter and hated lives. We've had years of legislation for the black community. Years! Yet things are still the same as long as any white person can look at a minority with disdain.

My freedom cannot be infringed upon regardless of who is in charge because my freedom rests in my soul. My freedom stays when my money goes. It stays when my rights are taken from me. My freedom stays when my body is cold and lifeless.

Politics, the media, our whole society says implicitly, you cannot have anything unless it is recognized by someone else. That is perhaps the direct opposite of reality.

To that end, I propose a new political agenda. It is semi-unrealistic in that you cannot legislate kindness. But I would take it not to the polls but to the only place that has evoked effective nationwide change in America: the media.

Through the media and its encouraging of societal pressures we have taught an entire nation to poo-poo smoking, buckle up, just say no, strap on an industrial strength condom, and numerous other points of etiquette. Perhaps the real affectors of society can pass on a message of kindness. Maybe somehow they can get it through to their many partisan believers that this system we all are part of is not a rat race. It a rat jog. There are countless other rats. There is no finish line, and the only way to lose is to try so hard to win it all seems hopeless.

This is an 7 point agenda (but can be considered a work in progress):

1. The only worthwhile act is kindness to another.

2. Not a one of us can possibly know enough to judge another. That is God's domain alone. There are truths that are written in our holiest books. Use that knowledge for your own personal salvation. For others it is best used as encouragement and speaking quietly and clearly. What is just will stand. What is false will fade away. Of course there are those who do not believe in God. In that case, it is just our meager existence vs. the Universe and therefore the judgment of one human can make scarcely an impact. Use your knowledge the best you know how.

3. Respect each person as a human creation, a child of the same universe.

4. Take nothing for granted. Accept graciously whatever comes your way, good and bad (and that goes double for who ever comes your way).

5. There is no such thing as being poor except poor in spirit.

6. Exercise your faith. Without faith there is no hope. (Again, for those without belief in God, faith in humanity. Faith in knowledge and compassion).

7. To dehumanize another can do nothing but dehumanize yourself.