I was sitting at lunch with the applicants for Teach for America when it struck me that I was surrounded by an amazing group of people. I knew that the organization designed to serve the underprivileged children of America by giving them the education they deserve is great, but I had never taken time to think about the individuals involved. These people are good to the core. Not only do they care about closing the achievement gap, but they care about people in general. A lunch that started with questions about the interview and application process ended with a heartfelt conversation about the future of the country and the wish that everyone would have an equal opportunity to achieve happiness.
Now, I’m not trying to paint these people as saints. I’m simply trying to explain what it felt like to be surrounded by people who indisputably care about others, no matter their race, religion, socio-economic status or sexual preference. The fact that their fellow citizens were human beings was enough for them to hope that they would be afforded every opportunity possible. It was refreshing to witness their kindness when we are currently so wrapped up in a process that, at times, seems more like a war than an election.
But now that I’m thinking about it, shouldn’t we all feel like that? Shouldn’t we be able to find it in ourselves to wish others well and hope for their happiness? I mean, save that butt-head who stole my parking spot the other day, doesn’t every human being’s welfare matter equally? I’m going to assume you answered yes to the above questions, because it’s rare to find someone who will openly admit a prejudice against a specific group (or a specific spot-stealer).
OK, being serious now. This election has brought up a lot of issues, some of which should have been addressed a long time ago and others that should never have been touched. In reference to the latter, fear and hatred have led many people to believe that if the state allows two caring, devoted individuals to express their love in the same way most couples are allowed, then our children’s school curriculum will be altered to address tolerance and treating everyone equally despite their differences. Oh, wait … they might have something there. So, for the sake of argument and in order to not diminish anyone’s ideas, let’s say that schools would depict gay marriage as a reality. What would be so wrong with exposing children to the diversity that living in a free country such as ours brings? Would it harm them to see parents, teachers and the government setting an example of open-mindedness and acceptance? Our country cannot move forward if we continue to teach fear and prejudice to our nation’s future.
Another thing that breaks my heart is when people proclaim that they could never vote for a candidate who is black. Please, I urge you all to vote for the person you think is most qualified to lead our country. Looking at skin color as a criterion for president won’t get us anywhere. If skin pigmentation had any correlation with being a successful leader, then the last eight years wouldn’t have been such torture. On the flip side, don’t vote for someone simply because they belong to a minority group. Although I would love to see our country grow to the point where we could look past physical appearances and judge a person based solely on their character and abilities, we will only get there if we don’t resort to these tactics.
I know that I sound like a bit of an idealist right now. OK, I sound so much like a naïve altruist that I’m making myself sick. But since you’ve stuck with me this far, just listen to the last thing my bleeding heart has to say: Please think of others when you vote on Tuesday. This country is made up of so many people whose hope for a brighter future is tied to the outcome of this election. When you make a decision, consider who will be affected and whose lives you have the power to change for the better.
DANIELLE RAMIREZ didn’t even touch Prop 4. If you want to know her opinion on the issue, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.