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To my voting friends:

October 28, 2012

The Presidential election is upon us and I respect your choice for the next President regardless of who it is.  I recognize that there may be others who may not respect your choice as there have been stories in the media of company owners threatening their employees if they vote for one candidate while another story describes a young woman who became a target of ridicule for choosing to vote for the other candidate.  What I wish to do is to encourage you to not allow yourself to be pressured by anyone to vote against your own judgment regardless of the consequences.

If your job is being threatened by your employer if you vote for the “other guy” then quit your job.  If your religious or other social group will consider you an outcast if you vote for the “other guy” then leave that group. If your Facebook friend threatens to “un-friend” you if you vote for the “other guy” then let him or her do so. Even if your life were threatened if you vote for the other guy then stand proud and tall and vote freely regardless of the consequences.  No job, no religion and no supposed “friend” is worth giving up your right to vote freely and even if your life were threatened then you should know, remember and be proud of the fact that in exercising your freedom and right to vote and choose your own government you walk the same path that the founding fathers took when they voted to form this Nation, at the risk of treason and execution, and against the tyranny of an oppressive ruler nearly 250 years ago.

The freedom and right to vote and choose your own government is why this Nation was created in the first place and why so many have since fought and died to preserve it.  This right to vote for whomever you wish is the very reason why companies like the one mentioned above can exist and do business, why religions can be practiced without persecution of it’s members and why your friend gets to freely enjoy and express him or herself on Facebook without being thrown in jail.

The strength of this nation lies not in the people having a uniform voice without opposition that is dictated to them by an oppressive, threatening and coercive few but instead lies in the natural diversity of voices from people who, at the end of the day when all is said and down, can live together in peace; mutually supporting and caring for each other as neighbors, as friends and as family members of one nation and of one earth.

The Presidential race is not really about the candidates but is about you and I and everyone one of us. It’s about our being able to listen to each other, understand our differences and take all our concerns under consideration each time we have a decision to make on issues that will impact others. If we can’t learn how to work through and resolve our own differences with each other ourselves then how can we expect our representatives and leaders, who work for us, ever do so?

And what would be the alternative if we don’t? Do we wage war against each other and commit the genocide of our opposition?  I think not. We must learn how work out our problems directly and peacefully among ourselves and not solely rely on our representatives to do this for us.  If we are to truly seek out and explore all options to solve our collective differences and concerns then we must go beyond political party rhetoric, the confines of our company’s needs and job security, the rigidity of our religious morals, and the limitations of our own convictions, traditions and preferences.  We must learn how to step back and see the larger picture and how our decisions and actions impact the lives of others.

The globalization of our world continually exposes the contradictions and limits of our conflicting values.  This Presidential race has served as a focal point and intersection where multiple paradigms clash and spar with each other. National values conflict with corporate values, religious beliefs contradict political values, and scientific truths are trampled upon by all of them.  The priorities of global corporations, like Apple, clash with National values.  The late Steve Jobs was asked by President Obama if Apple would manufacture their products in the US and Steve simply said, “No”.  It would obviously be a disastrous move for Apple and for so many other global corporations to do that.  The priorities of a global corporation, of which many are larger than most countries, are not the same as those of the US Government.  Corporations oppose Government regulation and involvement in their affairs but are fine to influence and manipulate the government to their advantage through astronomical lobbying and unprecedented campaign spending.  Religious conservatives are equally eager to impose their values on Government laws against marriage equality, abortion, and other issues while at the same time are for less welfare and social services that help the poor. They oppose the killing of fetuses even in the case of rape but are OK with the death penalty and going to war and killing thousands of innocent lives.  Meanwhile, global scientific concerns, like Climate Change and Genetic Engineering take a backseat to Corporate, National and Religious priorities.

The conflicting values and priorities are overwhelming, to say the least, and it is ridiculous to pin our hopes on one man, our next President regardless of who gets elected, or one political party to solve these issues for us.  Certainly we need their help but these issues are ours and if can not step back and embrace all our concerns together and strive to resolve our contentious differences then we cannot expect our government to do so for us.

The internet has connected the world together and social media has brought us much closer together.  We can use this tool to enhance and crystallize our differences our we can use it to foster understanding compassion and respect and bring us closer together.  This election has done much to incite and magnify the former.   I suggest we do the latter.  I suggest that we take the time to listen and educate ourselves of who we are. I suggest that we,  at least temporarily, set aside our limited paradigms and values  and experience what it’s like to walk in the shoes of others.  Let us listen to each other’s stories, struggles and triumphs and rediscover our humanity.  We are not one dimensional stereotypes, meaningless political labels, and shallow Twitter and Facebook memes and comments.  We are flesh and blood; we are real and we are human and just like the founding fathers of this Nation, it is we, the people, who must create and choose our government.   The opportunity is upon us to create a larger paradigm of values and priorities that take into account all of our concerns but we won’t know what that is unless we take the time to listen and talk to each other.

So, if you haven’t done so already, go and vote for who you think best represents your values but do not stop there.  Sit down and talk with your family, your friends, your neighbors, your fellow citizens and work together to build a future for us all in our homes, our local communities, our State, and the Country.  But then do not stop there either.  Listen and talk with people of other countries as well. Listen to their concerns and, with patience, compassion and perseverance we just might be able to create a new paradigm that works for the entire planet.

Thank you for listening,
Phiya Kushi

2 Comments leave one →
  1. María permalink
    November 2, 2012 11:22 am

    Thank you for this interesting article.

    Your words put the foot firmly on the ground, with some strong roots if you allow me to say and gives me hope. I believe firmly that, little by little, we can make a difference and create that new paradigm, for that we have to discern what we have, what we want, where we want to be, what will take us there, take decisions and be consequent with our acts.

    I would like to share my personal view,

    To know about our History all over the world as Humanity is really important and , we, people should remember the steps taken to achieve the rights we consider granted nowadays. And to take a look to other places of the world, where people doesn´t have the most basic rights covered, will help us to value what we have for granted. But as you mention, the best now is to listen carefully but beyond the words, watch the acts and the footsteps left behind until now…

    To vote is a right, …for us, women, hard to get. To vote is how we demonstrate we want to participate in the future through the now, how we put our little seed in that future and doing it we are teaching the others, specially the little ones that we are all important, all of us, every single life is taken into account to vote, for me is a responsibility towards the rest of the world because my vote can make a difference ( it may sound naive but I am totally convinced of it)and I am thankful to all those that have achieved the right of voting for me, as well as all the other human rights that assure us our freedom to be and are so precious to me.

    We are important in this Universe, we are unique and unrepeatable, …the song won´t be the same without our tonality.

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