I am a mother. I am a teacher. I am a Christian. Each of these identities, both individually and combined, means that hope is an essential part of who I am as a person. You cannot carry life beneath your heart for nine months and agree to nurture it for the remainder of your life without hope. You cannot spend the years training for a profession, the long hours preparing lessons, and sustain the weight of so many futures without hope. You cannot walk through a world with so much pain and suffering without hope. Hope is what gets me out of bed in the morning, brings me into the classroom each day, and into church on Sunday. Hope is what brings me into the voting booth for both Primary and Election Day.
Some of my earliest memories are walking through the empty church building with my mother and her friends to work on some maintenance or community service project and running errands with my father as he worked with his friends on a civic or political project. I was raised to care about my community and the people who live in it. I was raised to believe in and plan for the future of my family, my community, and my church. I was conceived in Germany while my father served in the Army and raised to believe that serving my country was just as important as serving my family, community, and church, because my fellow citizens are my community just as much as the people who share my zip code or sit in the next pew.
An important part of my growth and development was also that I was raised in the Presbyterian Church which taught me the importance of faith and service, but also the importance of continual improvement. Work on myself as a person of faith, work on my community to do better in the service of others, and work on my church to be stronger and more responsive to the needs of the world is a life-long project. My church taught me from an early age that while our God is perfect that we and certainly our church are not. These principles guided me when choosing a church community for my family and brought me to the Disciples of Christ and continue to guide my faith journey today.
I was raised in a political household where people not only voted in every election but also campaigned for the candidates they believed in. I worked on political campaigns years before I could vote. I attended political summer camps. I hijacked local elections as a young adult. One of my formative memories is the county sheriff’s race when I was in fifth grade. There were two candidates vying for the position. One was the popular community service officer and the other was less known but more experienced. My father resigned his party leadership position when the less qualified candidate was given the party backing because it was “his turn” and he had served the party. My father fought hard for the candidate he felt would better serve our community and put leadership over politics.
These are the lessons I will hold in my heart when I enter the voting booth this fall and fight for the future of my family, my community, and my church. I will vote for the candidate of hope. I will vote for the candidate I can trust to nurture a world where both my child and all of my students can thrive. I will vote for the candidate who thinks about my community, my entire community, more than he thinks about lining his own pockets and hoarding his own power. I will vote for the candidate who has served others, not just his family and friends, and understands why that matters.
I beg you to take off your team jersey and to just sit in the moment and consider your values and the lessons in your life that nurtured those values. No human is perfect and so there is no perfect candidate. Humanity cannot create perfection and so there is no perfect political party, government, or nation. The United States of America is far from perfect, but we can still strive toward that perfection. My hope is that by focusing on our values and our hope for a better future that we can come through these challenging times better and stronger as individual people and as a nation. I hope when you vote in November that you will vote for a better future not only for yourself and your family, but also a better future for every member of your community and our nation.