Today is Tuesday, November 6, 2012. For some countries just another idol Tuesday, for America it is the day we elect our future leaders. An opportunity sought after and longed for by many countries, an opportunity neglected by many Americans. Unfortunately too many U.S. citizens forget that the opportunity to vote is not a god given right, it is a right afforded to you by the blood, sweat and tears of past generations. In times past our forefathers fought for freedom and democracy, for the future they wanted their children to inherit, for privileges that so many take for granted. I don’t care who you vote for, democrat, republican, libertarian, independent or other… Quite frankly, it’s none of my business or anyone else’s, just vote! Use this opportunity to let your voice be heard, even if it happens to be a voice I don’t agree with, I still respect your right to believe as you wish and vote accordingly. I expect the same respect from you.

While I think it is amazing to live in a land where you can speak freely and have certain unalienable rights guaranteed to you, the way many citizens choose to exercise these rights is disappointing. Unfortunately far to many people spend exorbitant amounts of time on their soap boxes, ranting and raving about THEIR rights and how they refuse to have them taken away. These same people then step right off that very box and proceed with their own attempts to abolish and deny the rights of others in an effort to seek what they perceive as good and right. Well I’m here to tell you that the golden rule flows in both directions, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and with that in mind I offer these thoughts…

If you want religious freedom, you have to give it!

If you want people to respect your right to worship the god of your choice, you have to give them the same respect!

If you want them to do the previous without condemnation or condescension, you have to do the same!

If you want freedom of speech, you have to allow others the same freedom, no matter how ignorant you feel their words and opinions may be!

If you want the right to bare arms without restriction, you must offer this same right to all people, and be prepared to except the consequences when this privilege goes awry!

If you want someone to help you when you’re down, you first have to be willing to offer help to others in need!

If you want to drink from the aforementioned fountain of charity, you have to be willing to contribute water at some point or else that fountain will eventually go dry!

If you want the freedom to love whom you choose in the way you see fit, you must accept that others should also have this right!

If you want the right to make decisions concerning your body and to do with it as you please, you have to allow others to do this as well!

If you want to live freely, you must allow others to also live free!

Basically, if you want your rights to be ensured you must accept that those same rights will also be ensured to your fellow Americans, every single one of them. You cannot attempt to force your own thoughts, opinions and beliefs onto another human being and expect acceptance unless you are willing to give it in return when they do the same to you. Everyone is guilty of thinking that they are right, that their religion is better than yours, that their political party is the be all end all of great ideas. The truth is this, what is right for you may not be right for me, what is truth to you may be ridiculous dogma to me. God made us all different for a reason, he gave us all a brain, a marvelous tool used to think and form opinions. We are fortunate to live in a place where we are allowed to use this tool to its full capacity and we should not take that lightly. I am thankful that my parents raised me to think freely and for myself, even though they may not always agree with those thoughts. They were my earliest voting influence, they took me to the polls when I was to young to participate, we stood in line and then they would go into that little booth and cast their vote. I was never allowed inside the voting booth so it was always very mysterious to me as a child, but I always knew that whatever went on behind that curtain was of great importance. My dad taught me early on that voting is a personal choice and your decision is nobody’s business but your own! This is probably why you’ll never know who I voted for in this election or any other. I don’t take to Facebook and proclaim my political affiliation, I refuse to share posts that proclaim “Vote for Romney or you hate Jesus” or “Vote for Obama or you’re a racist” because quite frankly I don’t think either is true! I love Jesus and every forgiving and accepting principle for which he stood, I also am by no measure of the word a racist, so who did I vote for? I’ll never tell:) If you want to shout your decision from the rooftops, well by all means shout, that is your right! Please bare in mind however that all of those men and women who fought for your freedom of speech, by doing so also entrusted you with a great responsibility, that responsibility was not to be a raging a**hole to those who do not agree with you. Please, choose your words wisely!

I am so very thankful to live in a country where we are allowed a voice, so many people around the world are not, I will vote today because they cannot! I am so very thankful that men and women of past generations “planted trees whose shade they knew they would never sit in” so that I may enjoy the benefits of freedom, I will vote today because so many of them were not allowed! I am so very thankful for the men and women who fight today to maintain those freedoms established so many years ago, I will vote today because so many of them are not with us to cast their vote! I am so very thankful that my high school political science teacher, Cynthia Bennett, picked up where my parents left off and instilled in me an interest in politics that has never faded. She taught me that it was ok to be different from seemingly everyone I knew, she taught me that people don’t always have to agree on every political policy and that discussion is good, she taught me that a democrat can marry a republican and live a perfectly happy life… I will vote today because I know it would make her proud! And finally, I will vote today in hopes that future generations will have the same rights I currently have and more, I hope they will regard it as the great responsibility that it is!

Remember, voting is not your god given right, it is a process entrusted to you by generations of Americans. It is a right afforded to you by those who fought and died for your freedom. It is a privilege that many citizens of many countries do not have! If you want to talk about your rights, GO VOTE, if you fail to exercise that right then as far as I’m concerned you are not entitled to any of the others. That my friends is freedom of speech, like it or not, this is my truth and I’m so very thankful that I’m allowed to let my voice be heard! Let your voice be heard today, Vote!