Wednesday, November 7, 2012

To My Children About The 2012 Election

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Dear Children,

I tried to explain voting to you yesterday as we waited in the Rite Aid parking lot for Dad to buy some Advil (he's croaky and sore-throated). We counted all the people wearing red circle stickers declaring "I Voted" and we talked about how we vote for leaders of our country. Anson, I think you understood because of a recent viewing of Spy Kids wherein the spy kids help the President of the United States. Ever, you were concerned about stealing Squishy's sucker the bank teller gave us (you had already enjoyed your own) and Squishy, you were concerned because Ever was successful.

Dad had left us in the car because I was too tired to bring everyone in for a shopping trip so we waited in the parking lot. It was cold, I think Dad was worried about us because he left the car running. A couple minutes later, as we watched other sick people going in and out of Rite Aid--some coughing, some sneezing, some with red circular stickers on their sweaters and  some without--I became worried about all the emissions our car was putting out into the air and I shut off the car. Moments later the sun came out and warmed us up through the windows.

You know--or you will know, when you study history--this election was important to us as Mormons. It was the first time we've been able to vote for a Mormon for the President of the United States. Gov. Romney didn't talk much about being a Mormon on the campaign trail, but there was a lot of discussion elsewhere, about who we are, what we represent, what is in our hearts. I've never been more proud, actually, to call myself a Mormon than this past year 2012.

But it was hard. We're not used to being in the limelight as a people. So there were some growing pains. Growing pains are those aches you get when you lie down at night in your bed--the stretchy ones in your legs and arms. That's sorta what it felt to be a Mormon this year, for me, stretched and stretched.

In that stretching I learned to pray and study, to think and to contemplate. I listened to my heart and my hopes. It seemed the more I asked to learn about the issues surrounding this election the more I was given by the way of articles, conversations, Book of Mormon passages and solid observations. And I thought a lot about you and  your future, I thought about me--what feels good to my spirit.

I found that I worry about those emissions in the air. I worry about all those people coming and going out of Rite Aid--are they getting the care they need? I worry about teaching you, my children, about equality. (Ever, you had your sucker, it wasn't ok for you to steal Squishy's just because you're older!) I worry about people who have less than us, children who come from other countries where they are unsafe and I worry about parents who need help raising their families. I want to give my taxes to programs, places and people who need genuine help. I want to raise you, my children, in a clean environment (that's why we've been walking so much lately to the places we usually drive).

And after I assessed all these things in my heart. And after researching other subjects like women's rights and economic growth, I felt peace in my mind about which party addressed these needs in the same way I would address them. I do think all parties want to solve our pressing problems, there is a lot of good to see in our hopeful leaders. I voted with a clear conscience yesterday when I went to the booth.

On election night, after we put you to bed, I watched the totals come in downstairs in the den. I was nervous. I pulled and tugged at my hair until there was a nest of rejected hairs on the carpet below. In the end, I felt like a winner. The party I voted for won, and the religion I love--and I hope you'll love--won as well. We came through the "Mormon Moment" unscathed, for the most part. Gov. Romney was so genuine and sweet in his concession speech. I thought it was in his concession speech he best represented all of us Mormons (although, I am certain that wasn't his intention, he was just being himself).

Now one more thing, the one virtue I cherish most about the gospel is agency. The power to choose and act is the greatest power we have been given by God. When you are 18 you will have the ability to choose for yourself as a member of the United States. I only hope you'll spend the time and energy studying out the issues at hand, and act with your conscious. We may disagree, we may agree, it won't matter to me, as long as you see yourself intellectually independent from me and Dad. I hope I'll have the humility to accept that as well. I'll start praying today.

Mostly children, I hope you'll accept my invitation to explore the absolute pleasure of arriving at peace in your own heart about issues that speak to you and platforms that create a passion inside. Like I did in 2012.