Loitering low on the horizon, casting slowly spreading embers, the sun has begun to set. It sets on a day that will never again be. On a world that will change forever come tomorrow. Tonight we sit on the eve of history, the sun glowing brilliantly upon us all in equal measure.
I rarely use this space to talk about politics – unless it’s in the form of championing veterans causes or prodding you to think about ways to do social good – but today the sun sets. Tomorrow Americans head to the polls to cast their ballots in an election that, no matter the outcome, will be historic. I’ve a few things to say about that.
In life choices must be made, the consequences lived with. Some of those choices lead us to wonderful things like love, puppies and winning lottery tickets (not that I’ve ever chosen one of those, dammit!) Others choices can take us down some dark and winding roads. The one thing all choice has in common is that it is something that must be decided upon from within.
Though we may tell ourselves that we’ve been forced into making choices, the simple truth is that just isn’t possible. You choose. Yes, you may have had to make some pretty crappy choices, but in the end the choice was yours to make. My opinions, what your partner says, brow-beating by the media, none of those truly matter in the end. Choice is a solitary endeavor.
This is the bedrock of democracy. One person. One Vote. Your choice.
Those who live in democratic societies have been given a rare gift of choice. We are allowed a voice in the shaping of the country we live in. That isn’t to say that our voice is often heard, that we always get what we want, or that our countries conform to our ideals. But, we do have a choice. One that a large swath of humanity does not have.
I can’t say that I joined the Navy to defend your right to make choices. At nineteen I was mostly just looking for a way out of the one-tumbleweed town I grew up in, and to escape some of the youthfully irresponsible choices I’d made. Again, I chose.
That said, I can tell you that seeing places during my service and in my subsequent decades of travel, where many choices were denied to women, those with little means, those who love differently and entire ethnic groups lit a fire in me to exercise my right to choose whenever I could. Not just vote but to choose the type of person I wanted to be, the types of people I wanted to lift up and admire. I understood that by doing this I may have an impact on the world I’d one day hand down to my own children. Again, my choices.
Tonight we sit on the eve of history. Tomorrow I’ll go to the polls and take my children along to witness history. No matter the victor tomorrow, my children will know that I made a choice. I can only hope the majority of us choose wisely.