Another Day in the Country
Do you see what I see?
© Another Day in the Country
When I voted this year, I did it in person like I usually do. There’s just something about the process of looking your fellow citizens in the eye that I feel good about.
It’s community! Here we are, all of us in this together deciding who we want to lead us for the next four years, whether it’s county commissioners, representatives or president.
The people at the voting place — in my case, it’s the senior center in Tampa — always are well prepared, polite, helpful, and smiling as we try to sign our names with an upside down pen on the bottom of a tablet screen. It’s tricky.
There’s someone to guide you every step of the way, right through to the voting booth. They help you deposit your ballot in the right box, reassure you that you get to take the pen home, and “sorry, no stickers to wear this year.”
And you’re out the door and on your way as more of your neighbors park, climb out of their trucks, hitch up their pants and prepare to prove who they are when they go inside the door — with a mask on!
I was proud of everyone! I was pleased to see a steady stream of vehicles rolling up to the curb, glad that I knew who so many of the people were. It felt like I was part of a team.
Then, I was back in my car and on my way to Abilene to exercise. I listened to the radio as I drove on a beautiful sunny day. I heard officials reassuring listeners that voting and the care and counting of your ballot were safer and more efficient than ever.
I heard people calling in and reporting how good their voting experience was, and others expressing gratitude for living in a democracy. I was smiling as I drove, feeling good, trusting “the people.” People I knew, people I cared about, people who were good citizens, good farmers, great parents, and role models for the next generation. I know them. I felt good!
Then I heard commentators talking about the stress we’ve been living under, the unpredictability, the conspiracy theories, and the difficulty of voting in some places.
I thought to myself, “No stress here — I’m perfectly calm. These folks should live in the country….” and then I looked down at my speedometer.
I thought I was feeling good; but as I listened my foot had been pressing harder and harder on the pedal — as if I wanted to get away from it all. The Grandma car, this big old Lincoln, was sailing down K-15 at almost 90 miles an hour!
“Whew, slow down girl!” I said to myself, taking my foot off the gas and taking a deep breath. “Easy does it!” bringing the car back down to 65.
I hadn’t thought I was feeling stress; but obviously I was. Obviously I do! And it’s because I care very much about who will be the next president of the United States. I care very much about who’s leading, whether it’s in Marion or in the White House.
I believe we all should be role models for the generations coming after us; and this applies double-time to those who want to lead, otherwise what will we become as a people (a bunch of squabbling cats?)? I believe in honesty, fairness, and kindness, whether you are the county supervisor or the country’s. I believe in basic manners whether you live in a manor or a shack.
At the same time, I must admit, that for the last four years I’ve been baffled by how some people see the world. Even after asking questions, trying to understand how they think, I am still perplexed at the predictability of folks looking at the same scene, listening to the same words, and interpreting them all together differently.
“Give it up, Pat,” my sister says to me when I try to bring up the subject with relatives. “Let it be,” she cautions.
It’s almost like we look at a color — purple, for instance, and they see green.
“Really?” I say to them. “You think this is green?”
And they nod.
“But purple is a combination of red and blue, while green is a combination of blue and yellow — altogether different,” I say. “Is this a medical condition? Are you color blind? Is there a tint in your glasses? What could this be?”
Maybe we just have to get back to primary colors: red, yellow, and blue.
“From those three all the other colors come,” I tell my third graders.
Green is a secondary color — a mixture of two primary colors. Purple is a secondary color — a mixture of red and blue. So green and purple do have something in common — the color blue!
So let’s go back to what we have in common, the basics — come to think of it, that why they put those colors are in our flag. White stands for purity, red honors the bloodshed that gives us freedom and blue is for loyalty and truth.
If we choose those qualities, those simple colors, the day will dawn again when we see them clearly, and can at least agree that what we’re looking at, what we’re calling for is red, white, and blue on another day in the country.