Tuesday, May 03, 2011

O Canada!

Before I get to the meat of this post, let me be the first to acknowledge that I have no authority to write this post. I have not earned the right to write it. It speaks more to me than anyone else, and if anyone feels judged by it, know that I am judging myself more harshly than I would ever judge anyone else.

There is a story told about an African village that experienced two extreme seasons, like many African villages, a rainy season and a dry season. During the rainy season there was more than enough water to go around.  Everyone had plenty and there was still some to spare.  During the dry season though, there was no water.  Every dry season many children and old people died because there was not enough water
One year, they had a new leader, a very wise leader.  He had a very large reservoir tank constructed and instructed all the men of the village that everyday during the rainy season they were each to bring a bucket of water and pour it into the tank.  Then, in the dry season, he would ration the water in the tank out and no one would die from lack of water.
The rainy season came and went.  Throughout the rainy season there was plenty of water for everyone.  Then the dry season came.  The riverbeds dried up.  The lakes dried up.  The people dried up.  Soon everyone was thirsty.  They came to their leader and asked him to start rationing out the water in the reservoir tank.  He agreed and all the men came with their water buckets.  The first stood at the spigot as the leader turned the spigot to let the water flow into his bucket.  Everyone waited in suspense.  Nothing happened.  The leader checked the spigot.  It seemed fine.  Finally he climbed up to look in the tank.
There was nothing there.  The tank was completely empty.
He climbed back down and looked at the men of his village.  They all stared at the ground.  One by one he asked them why they hadn't put water in the tank throughout the rainy season.  One by one they answered:
"It was too far away"
"I didn't have time"
"I didn't think my bucket would make a difference"
That dry season many children and old people died of thirst.  There was a system in place to prevent it, but it failed because people thought that their bucket wouldn't matter.

Yesterday, the US and other parts of the world celebrated the death of a dictator of sorts, Obama bin Laden.  Whether celebrating was the right idea or not is currently irrelevant.  If you want to know my thoughts on it, check this out.
Yesterday, Canada had a democratic election to try and elect a new government.
The preliminary results are in. I'm not going to make a statement about how I feel on who won, or how seats were divided, because I have absolutely no right to comment on that.  I have even less right to comment on what I'm going to comment on, but I'm going to do it anyways.  Remember, this is more for me than for anyone else.
According to preliminary results, voter turnout was only 61.4%. (80 polls out of 71,513 still have to report and it doesn't include electors who registered on election day, so that will rise a little yet (when I started writing this section over 110 polls still had to report. The percentage has only changed by 0.1%)) That means close to 40% of the eligible population did not vote. I'll admit that I was one of them. I dropped the ball and failed to get an absentee ballot in time to vote. So I'm part of that close to 40%. I'm not proud of it.  It saddens me.  I wouldn't be proud of it if that number was 2 or 3 percent, or even 10%, but it wouldn't sadden me as much.
As a Canadian, I am privileged to live in a democratic nation.  If you are Canadian or American (or a number of other things), you are too.  But a democracy only works if people get out and vote.  Maybe you think your vote won't make a difference, but if everyone thinks that, the reservoir tank stays empty.  I'm grateful for the 61.4 percent of people who got out and rocked the vote yesterday.  I'm ashamed to be part of the 38.6% that didn't. Worse, I'm ashamed to belong to the age demographic that historically has the lowest voter turnout ever and to be part of the 38.6% that didn't vote.  If you are age 18-34 and got out and rocked the vote yesterday, you are amazing and are helping to change history.  I'm sorry I let you down.

Every vote, every voice, every bucket of water makes a difference.

PS: just in case you are curious, the US voter turnout in their last federal election was 56.8%.  I was one of them. (yes I can vote in both countries.  The joys of dual-citizenship)

PPS: yes Mom, I did write and post this at quarter after three in the morning.  I couldn't sleep.

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