Monday, November 3, 2008

Democracy Isn't Easy

I voted. Finally. I've literally struggled for weeks and months over how to vote this year. I've discussed the candidates and the issues nearly endlessly. I've agonized to the point of feeling sick, more than once. I've argued and questioned and wondered if I'm doing the right thing.

As I consider that democracy isn't easy, I now worry that this is the first time I have given this much consideration to my vote. I feel the weight of responsibility not to just cast a vote, but to cast a very carefully considered vote. Because it really does matter. Sure, it matters to me. It affects my life, my home, my taxes, my rights. But it matters to a lot of other people too, because it is the will of the majority that in fact affects the entirety.

When I went to Calvin College, I remember it being said that Calvin endeavored to teach students not what to think, but how to think. I first understood this when I encountered some dissension between the college and a local congregation of the college's sponsoring denomination, and the case in question was an objection to some academic discussion where admittedly the answers could not easily be separated into right or wrong.

At the time, I came to understand that a belief becomes stronger when it is questioned and tested. Therefore, I must be willing to withstand questions of faith and even ask them, if I am to hold strongly to what I believe. I can't ignore or discredit dissenting viewpoints, I have to engage the people who hold them, and find out what I can learn. I must be willing to step outside of the assumptions I have always held, so that when my vote is cast, I know it is out of true conviction and belief.

I've done my best. I'm human and fallible, but I have tried to be faithful to my responsibility to make an informed decision. I always get excited about election day, and now that I've finished agonizing, I will enjoy it. I think it's fabulous that for one night every four years, democracy is the star on every TV channel. While the outcome matters, it is the process of democracy that I believe in the most.

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