Don’t Vote, Choose

You voting for the first time in San Francisco, November 6, 2018

November 6, 2018

Dearest Solomon,

It’s 4:40 am. I’ve been up for more than a few hours already. I’d like to think it’s just a headstart on the pile of work that I have to do today, but it’s something much bigger than that. Today is Election Day and, as the cliche goes, it’s the most important vote in my lifetime.

The past 2 years have been filled with a hollowness and despair I’ve not been able to reconcile for myself. In that time, I’ve seen the worst in people become the norm, the inconceivable give way to the convention, and the unfathomable swim to deeper depths. Sadly, I’ve been embroiled in more than my share of it, covered in the same blood and oil I wish we had less of.


The past 2 years, I’ve been wondering, how the hell did we get here. I wish that I could say that it wasn’t obvious, but it’s not that complicated — people are difference machines, fueled by comparison. It is in comparison that we see not what we have but what we do not. Difference will be the death of us if it goes unchecked.

Our country is filled now with masses of aggrieved citizens, unwilling to tolerate those differences any longer. For most, this pain is real and justified. For a vocal few, however, this pain is invented and irrational. You see, too many people don’t just misunderstand the things they don’t know, they fear them. This problem is expounded when our leaders throw gasoline on the matter and stir with matches.

Leadership is the power to help others move towards to the best version of themselves. Our country doesn’t have great leadership, it has the opposite. We all can tell this, even the ones who support the leadership

I’ve been wondering when the leadership gap will be closed.


The past 2 years, I’ve been watching. I’ve seen countless people betray the models I had built up for them in my own mind. I’ve seen norms slip away with the promise they were never normal. I’ve witnessed incredible hypocrisy in the name of power and policy.

We are no longer moral people. We are completely tribal. As someone who has largely eschewed any formal faith, I always believed in the underlying goodness of people. I always relied on the idea that, given the chance to do the right thing, enough people would choose the better path — giving the good an edge over the bad, in the long run. I no longer see this.

I see expediency. I see convenience. I see apathy filling the void that once was happy. How do we turn a blind eye to everything we believed? Everything we fought for? How do we reconcile the truth when the truth is now in question? How do we define success when words no longer matter?

Morals are the blood we extract from the stone. They are the hard-learned lessons we learn from the experiences we pay for with our time and energy. If you forget them, you never learned them at all.

I’ve been watching for the fever to break, for the spell to be broken.


The past 2 years, I’ve been waiting. The currency of the moment is pain. Wealth is acquired not by doing better or working harder, but by forcing others to pay in tears. Winning has never been more brutal.

Hurt at all costs, that’s our motto — winning is no longer enough. Fine people, truly fine people, have forgotten their humanity. Caught up in the tempest, we allow ourselves to swirl and spin, amplified to new heights atop the echoes of our own confirmation chambers.

Winning is giving, period. Since my first letter, my first lesson, I noted that I would rather be taken advantage of than to take advantage of someone else. This shouldn’t be considered a position of privilege, but these days it sadly seems one. Consider me privileged, then.

Charity is life’s true currency. Humans cannot stand alone. We search out mates, start families, form societies, and harden laws all as ways to codify how we give and how we take. Be charitable in everything you do because it’s right, not because it’s good.

I’ve been waiting for us to stand before the mirror again, to see our friends, neighbors, and citizens again.


Today is the day I stop wondering when leaders will stand up. Today is the day I stop watching for people to come to their senses. Today is the day I stop waiting for hope to beat out hate.

It’s Election Day in America. It’s the most important election in my life. Today isn’t the day I vote, it’s the day I show you how all the choices I’ve made so far in my life will shape all the choices you and I have yet to make.

Choose wisely. Choose with me. Choose for you. Choose.

Love always,
Dad


Let me leave you with the words of Major Brent Taylor, a wiser, braver dad who lost his life defending our nation while defending and celebrating the people of Afghanistan:

Freedom: Millions Defy Taliban and Vote in Afghan Elections
“The secret to happiness is freedom… And the secret to freedom is courage.” — Thucydides
“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt
It was beautiful to see over 4 million Afghan men and women brave threats and deadly attacks to vote in Afghanistan’s first parliamentary elections in eight years. The strong turnout, despite the attacks and challenges, was a success for the long-suffering people of Afghanistan and for the cause of human freedom. I am proud of the brave Afghan and US soldiers I serve with. Many American, NATO allies, and Afghan troops have died to make moments like this possible; for example, my dear friend Lieutenant Kefayatullah who was killed fighting the Taliban the day before voting began. 🇦🇫️
As the USA gets ready to vote in our own election next week, I hope everyone back home exercises their precious right to vote. And that whether the Republicans or the Democrats win, that we all remember that we have far more as Americans that unites us than divides us. “United we stand, divided we fall.” God Bless America. 🇺🇲️👊🏻
- Major Brent Taylor