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June 29, 2015

Vote with Your Life

A  teenager said to me the other day, “What’s the point? The human race is hopeless; we never learn. Look at our history: we have done horrendous acts, and we continue to do even worse. Anything good that anyone ever does is drowned in the ocean of the bad, senseless, and hopeless. What can one person really accomplish?”

I felt extremely privileged that all of a sudden I was facing such an important conversation, because there are plenty of unimportant conversations in our lives about nothing in particular, just to fill the time or to kill time. Then there are conversations about what we do with our time: what school we choose, what occupation, where we choose to live and work and whom we date and marry, etc. These are important conversations. And then there was this, right in front of me: one of the most significant subjects; and it seemingly came out of nowhere. BAM! It slammed into me like the proverbial ton of bricks.

I knew I needed to rise to the occasion, no matter how many things I still had on my to-do list and on my mind that day or how urgently I may have needed to attend to something else. Perhaps what the teenager said reflected and echoed some of my own sentiments. I knew I needed to be authentic and present, because these are the only ways to be. But I also knew that authenticity is difficult to come by in this world, and many times I myself struggle with being present. So this is what I had to say in response:

“Your voice, which combines everything you think, say, or do, and how you express yourself, is your vote. Your time is your vote. Your life is your vote.”
“I know that life is not always fair. I know that we humans are prone to mistakes, sometimes even very bitter collective mistakes. I know the reality may sometimes show up to you as void of hope, and any act of kindness, nobility, or self-sacrifice seems to vanish in the face of everything that is wrong with the world. But look around carefully. Look and see. Realize that there are many things that are working. Realize that there are still many things where we got it right. This is because some people stood for something greater than themselves and worked for it, sometimes knowing that they would not see the results in their own lifetimes. Realize that our individual lives are not in and unto themselves, because every time you choose to do a selfless thing, simply because you know it is the right thing for you to do, every time you show kindness and mercy, every time you remove yourself from the pedestal and instead work for the common good — even your very personal definition of what this “common good” is — all of these cast a vote for what the humanity represents. Your life casts a vote for what and who we are as humans.

“I’ve seen too many close political elections to know that any vote could become the deciding vote. Likewise, what you choose to do during your lifetime can either give hope or take it away. Your voice, which combines everything you think, say, or do, and how you express yourself, is your vote. Your time is your vote. Your life is your vote. You want humanity to be kinder? Then show kindness. You want more love? Then love. You want change? Then be the change. You want peace? Then be just that. There are myriads of ways, big and small, in which you can make the humanity to be what you want and envision it to be, because you are a part of it. You can shape its course with your life. You can change its direction with what you do. You can bring your light where it is dark and show the way. Be the light, the peace, the hope for others. And if you think you cannot accomplish much, be encouraged, because you cast your vote every day. In fact, you do it all the time, even when you’re not aware of it. Look for the opportunities, because they are easy to overlook, but there are so many of them. The opportunities where you can bring your vision and change the world, either the whole world or your immediate world, are countless! You can change the world to be something very different than what it would have been if you had not been a part of it. When you see what this game of life entails and the tremendous power an individual has to change its course, as well as the high stakes of the game, then you will undoubtedly get on the field and engage in the gameplay, because you cannot really be a part of any game from the sidelines.”

I know that more conversations and personal examples would be required of me, but I’m glad I had the chance to have this important conversation. I am also thankful that I could be reminded of what’s really important in life.

What’s important to you? What has been your complaint about the way things are? Perhaps these hold the clue for what you can do, today, now, for the world to be what it can be with you in it. Be the Light! Be the Change!

Dee was born and grew up in the Republic of Belarus. He is a business strategist and organizational consultant, student of spirituality, lover of life, equality, and justice.

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