Sometimes I wonder if I’m on the right path.
There are lots of different paths I follow, most of the time simultaneously. I have my family path, my career path, my path to retirement, my spiritual path, etc. Sometimes these paths cross; sometimes they run in parallel; sometimes in opposite directions. How do I know if I’m not only on the right path at the right time, or going in the right direction even if I’m on the right path? Right or wrong, I suppose I’m always moving, and most of the time I don’t know if I’m moving in the right direction until that specific journey is over (or nearly over).
For instance, yesterday I followed my political path. I voted. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but I don’t think it can be said too many times. Voting is so important. It may not seem like it, but it is. It doesn’t matter if you don’t vote for the person who wins the election. What matters is that you speak your mind when you vote. It doesn’t matter if you think no one hears you. Your vote counts, even in the electoral system that we have.
Voting is not a selfish thing; or it shouldn’t be. When election day nears, I try to keep in mind some of the great things that have been spoken in the past. Like when John Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” Too often, all we do is think about ourselves. We ask, “Well, what am I getting for my tax dollars?” Or, “How is my tax dollars benefiting me?” Often it is, “What do I get out of this?” Instead, we should be asking, “How can my tax dollars benefit my country?” We need to support people who want to do what is best for our country, even if it is not what is best for ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong. I can be as selfish and self-serving as the next person. I believe people who are truly selfless are few and far between. When I vote for someone, I try to pick the person who is the least selfish of the bunch AND can get the most accomplished for the country. If a candidate is someone that can get a lot accomplished, will that candidate get the most accomplished for the country as a whole or for just a privileged few or, even worse, just for the candidate. It’s getting more and more difficult to make that choice these days. It takes a lot of research to make that choice. That means taking the time to learn more about candidates than what they say about themselves or about each other. Self-praise means nothing. Bashing the opposing candidate means nothing. Not only researching the facts is important, but also believing what you find. Too many times, people will not believe the facts, only the perceptions.
I’m not going to say who I voted for in the presidential race (or any other). I’m still not going to endorse a specific candidate. However, I believe I would be on the right path if I did. We enjoy freedom of speech in this country, and I am free to voice my opinion. Of course, I have to accept the consequences if I do voice my opinion. You are not forced to agree with, or listen to, my opinion. You don’t even have to respect my opinion. However, you do not have the right to censure my opinion just because you don’t agree with it. Nor can I censure you opinion.
That right is guaranteed in our Constitution. Along with all the other rights. You may not respect my opinion, but you have to respect my right to voice that opinion. In the same way, you have to respect my right to own a gun, my right to worship God in the way I so choose, my right to privacy within my home, my right to life, liberty, and due process of law, my right to a just defense and a speedy trial if accused of a crime, and every other right afforded to me by our Constitution regardless of my race, color, or creed. You must respect my rights as a citizen of the United States of America regardless of my sex, my gender, or even my gender identification. I am an individual and I am a human being. I have rights, and you will respect them as long as they are within the confines of the law. You don’t get to cherry-pick which rights to respect. You either respect every right, or you respect none of them. It is all or nothing.
I take issue with people who call themselves “patriots”, but they choose to respect only certain rights, only the rights they agree with or only when those rights pertain to them. You are not a patriot if you do not respect all rights for all people. You are just a selfish, self-serving, petty person if you only care about your rights and no one else’s. Don’t sully the word “patriot” by belittling the people who fought and died for all of our freedoms listed in our Bill of Rights.
I apologize for the soap-box moment. I’m far from being perfect. When people say we need to take back our country then I agree; just not in the same way they usually mean. Who are we taking our country back from? Greedy politicians? I’m all for that. From people who are not white? Definitely NOT. (I can say that. I’m a pasty-white male from the South!)
All I can do is to caution everyone to make sure the path you are on doesn’t lead to a place you can’t get out of. You may come to regret it.