We have a tendency to rush through life, never stopping to appreciate what we have. We tend to take things and people for granted and only miss them when they’re gone. We seem to be driven to do more, have more, and strive for the future while not living in the presence. Thing of the workaholic spouse who drives themselves and their families crazy working long hours to get more bucks – saying they are working to bring more prosperity to their families. And at the same time that family just wants their presence (not presents).

We rush through meals without tasting the food. We go to beautiful places and get our face stuck behind a camera -recording the experience instead of enjoying it. We dress up to impress others but fail to see the natural beauty in ourselves and our loved ones. And, on days like today – Election Day – we worry about current outcomes without taking the time to appreciate the democracy we have had for over 200 years.

It is important to vote – we have a privilege that many in this world don’t have. We have fought long and hard to expand the voting rights to all and to safeguard that privilege. We draw upon a process that goes back way before our country was founded. Many people don’t realize that it was popular uprisings in the 1600’s in England that toppled two monarchs and helped expand the power of people who were not born into royalty.

Remember the words “We the People” at the beginning of our Constitution. We the People established this government for all of us. We did this and we do this for the common good of all, not for the privilege of the few. Constant vigilance is important to safeguard the freedoms we all recognize as belonging to all of us, no matter our color, creed, gender, or any other distinguishing factor of our existence.

And remember that our civic responsibilities do not end with just voting. We elect representatives and we need to make sure they do represent us. They need to hear from us often during their time in office so they can and will do that. And local action is important in our cities and counties and states as well as at the federal level. We the People need to be encouraging and supporting each other, and sometimes challenging each other to do the work of improving our local environments.

We have gone through struggles before. My parents were part of the “Greatest Generation” who struggled to survive during the Great Depression and fought the Second World War. My great grandfather fought in the Civil War. My sisters and i were born during the post-WWII era with the likes of Joe McCarthy and the House Un American Activities Committee (very un American), and the blacklisting and red scares. We survived to be active in the great changes and progress of the 1960’s. We survived Watergate and Vietnam and came out stronger.

I urge you to take some time today to study our history. The things we have overcome and the progress we have made. We aren’t perfect and there remains progress to be made and a reconciliation with the past. We need to acknowledge our past mistakes and endeavor to not repeat them or things like them. But we also need to acknowledge that we are strong and that our country has survived the bastards of the past – we will survive the bastards of the present and future. We still have the longest established constitutional democracy in the world and we aim to preserve it with all our might.