A very elderly and fragile African-american woman came in the door with her son and a young woman. The son held his mother's arm while she walked with a cane and the young woman carried her oxygen tank along the hall and around the corner to the end of the line of mostly white voters, some of whom had now been waiting close to an hour.
After a few minutes I saw them come back down the hall and I heard the son say, "Mama, do you want to try again another day when the line might be shorter?"
There was a very tall man at the front of the line who could see what was happening and heard what was said. I guessed by his look of concern that he was thinking the same thing I was, so I rushed down the hall to the woman and her family. I told her not to leave, but to go to the front of the line. She asked me, " Honey, do you think that will be ok?" I didn't ask anyone else for their opinion, I just told her that of course it would be ok.
The young woman went to the front of the line and spoke to the people there and not only did they make a place for the woman, but someone found her a chair. As I walked back to my place to wait for my son, several of the people thanked me for stepping in to help the woman. Although I had just unilaterally increased everyone's wait by several more minutes, no one complained.
At the time, I was very proud of my fellow citizens, but afterward I began to wonder what made us all react the way we did to this one person's desire to vote and I think that the answer is that for that one period of time in that one place, we were a COMMUNITY UNITED in common cause. By the simple act of showing up to vote, we had agreed to the rules that govern all truly united communities:
Everyone regardless of their life situation has value.
Everyone has the right to be heard and to be treated with respect even when we disagree.
We are all responsible for taking care of one another.
Monday, November 03, 2008
A Cheerier Interlude
Today I'm relenting on my stance of only posting stuff about me, me, me because I want to share with you an excerpt from an email I received this morning from a lovely woman who attends my church. She sent this email churchwide so I'm pretty sure she won't mind me sharing it anonymously with the world. I have excluded the parts of the email that were more personal or personally identifying. Therefore, I need to set the stage somewhat and let you know that she had taken someone to the county clerk's office to vote early when the following took place. Also, if you are the emotional type you may want to have a tissue on hand by the time you reach the end of the story.