The Privilege of Citizenship
With the 2018 Election Day at the forefront of many of our minds, I remember a time when I possessed deep misgivings about our nation and our military power. I had become convinced that our country was wrong for many of its actions––until I experienced the value of being an American citizen.
I was in Costa Rica and missed a bus that was to take me back to town after a UPEACE outing. I was alone on a dark road and feared that at any moment I would be attacked. And then I spotted the U.S. Embassy with three crisp marines in their dress uniforms.
Aligning with Our Inalienable Rights
As I ran toward the embassy, undoubtedly looking like some crazy woman, I cried with joy as relief washed over my body. I suddenly realized the currency of being an American citizen, and I had to reflect upon my judgments about our country and the use of power and might. I realized the people in the military are not the bad actors, but that many of our politicians and policies are––particularly when they fuel fear and create conditions where women, immigrants, and those looked upon as different are preyed upon needlessly.
These are the conditions that plague us as we go to the polls. Many of our politicians are not in alignment with what is good about our country––the land of the brave and the home of the free. A place where all citizens have been granted the right to pursue happiness and freedom––until power over by those who hold disdain for the different and who selfishly act to protect their own interests cause acts of harm to those who are “less than.”
What we must understand is that bad actors are acting out of fear––and while that does not excuse behavior that is out of alignment with our inalienable rights, it might create the stage for change. We can use our privilege as citizens to make different choices.
When we can understand what fear can drive us to, we can have compassion and resolve how to have “power with” rather than “power over.” It’s so easy to have an opinion without having facts and without understanding another viewpoint that is shortsighted. It sets up “us versus them” or “me versus you.”
I could not have been more shocked at myself, at my excitement, and my relief to see the U.S. Embassy and see young marines with guns. I had very strong opinions about my country and what was wrong at that time. Yet when I was fearful, I was happy to see the marines. My circumstances changed immediately because I am a U.S. citizen and possess the privilege that comes with that. I realized I had been forming judgments based on my own “narrow” viewpoints and getting my information on 24-hour news bites.
Today’s atmosphere of fear mongering and the inhumane treatment of others is not unlike the circumstances that originally caused me to judge our country as bad and our actions of power over as wrong.
Voting with Our Values
Deep down there are many among us that do align with values that hold integrity. We do respect one another and love our country because of the privilege that comes with being a citizen.
As we go to the polls this election day, perhaps we can make choices based on our values and our pride in our country. Perhaps we can instill civility in our communities and embrace hope that we will all experience life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness once and for all.
So to you, my dear readers, I humbly ask that you exercise your right to vote–-and choose to align your values with those who seek to hold an office in the United States.
P.S. A workbook for Jungle: A Journey to Peace, Purpose, and Freedom will soon be available as will the audio book. Watch our Facebook page for details: https://www.facebook.com/cindyhensonjungle/ Be sure to “Like” my page so that you are notified of my updates.
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