Saturday, November 10, 2012

Of elections and such...

Election Day in the United States has come and gone. From what I can gather here on the back side of the desert, some are celebrating, others are mourning and some are fearful for the future. I read (and at times thought myself) much about choices between the lesser of two evils, the failures of our political system, and wondered what all this meant for the future of my homeland. It is easy to get sidetracked by the media hype and the social media outlets. It is easy to forget...

Nations, where the right to participate in choosing political leaders and governmental authorities occurs without fear for personal safety, violence or reprisal, have an amazing opportunity. I hope I remain ever thankful for this privilege - never taking for granted, or helplessly, fatalistically approaching my responsibility to contribute to the decisions that will impact the future of my country.

That isn’t the case in many places all around the world…

It was a morning I’ll never forget…

Approximately one year previous, our country experienced a coup d’├ętat… quick and with little bloodshed. Nevertheless, the military still overthrew the sitting government. Martial law resulted. Traffic patterns throughout town altered and curfews imposed. Liberties taken for granted just the day before were now curtailed. Although we were on home assignment when the actual takeover occurred, when we returned a few months later, the effects of these events could be clearly seen.

Tensions crept upward throughout the January preceding the scheduled elections and hopeful return to civilian rule… clear and intense differences of opinion existed. 

The number of armed soldiers, military vehicles and tanks moving around town increased. Marches and demonstrations occurred, disrupting planned activities. The day before the election, warnings were published to be on alert as we moved about town the next day.

As normal, that morning I was up before dawn baking bread and preparing lunches for my children to take to school. Finishing up in the kitchen, I started back to the bedrooms to begin waking the kids when I heard the first explosion. At first I thought it was my imagination or maybe a large truck backfiring. Then, a second. 

Shortly after that, several successive blasts shattered the last vestiges of early morning quiet. A quick look outside confirmed black smoke billowing one neighborhood over.

Although all was quiet again within 10 minutes, it seemed too hushed. The everyday morning sounds had dissipated like the plume of black smoke that had appeared over the city. Less traffic than normal announced the beginning of a new work day, and sirens rang in the distance and cell phones buzzed as parents quickly decided the kids weren't leaving the house for school. 

Was this another coup? Had election fervor erupted into violence?

Thankfully, that wasn't the case.

It took some time to piece together what had transpired, but apparently a military vehicle had crashed into a storage rack of gas bottles, which then began to explode. Injury, death and property destruction resulted, but later that day, the polls did open with armed guards everywhere and the election proceeded without any further hitch.

Those uncertain minutes starkly reminded (me, at least) that... 

nonviolent transfers of power in a nation where the government encourages 
the population to participate, voting for the candidate of their choice 
can be neither lightly considered nor assumed many places around this world. 
It is an awesome privilege and responsibility 
citizens of the United States (and other countries) are blessed to have.

The Bible is also clear about another, accompanying privilege and responsibility: I'm commanded to pray for my authorities

Independent of whether or not I support a particular person or agree with his/her political stands or agenda, I can choose to obey: “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Timothy 2:1-4)

Please share your reflections on this beautiful right, privilege and responsibility that Americans (and others) enjoy.


  1. Wow, definitely causes one to think and be grateful! During this election I have been grateful to know that the vote of the people really does count. During the last election where we are, there were so many accusations of large scale corruption. Many other systems are corrupt here too, leaving people often feeling like their voice doesn't mean anything. Though all of the political banter and debate can get really old, it is nice to know that we as a people do have the chance to be heard and decide the future direction of our country.

    1. It seems that at least at some level, corruption is a part of the political process. I know that is always the accusation here. It has me thinking about how much what is perceived as corruption is also cultural, though...

  2. Wow, Richelle, thank you for this eloquent comment on the privileges of government elected by the people. I like your point about prayer for our leaders. That is what I intend to do, pray for Barak Obama and our leaders, pray for a returning to God in our nation. I'm not upset by one candidate or the other winning. I know God is in control and I have a strong, sure hope.

    1. Thanks, Olive! Not being in the States during this time, I've been told I have no idea what it was like during the campaigning phase... but the bits and pieces I've gathered seems to indicate that kindness and debate of the issues instead of mudslinging was sorely missing on both sides. I think a lot of expats have a similar viewpoint to what you shared... I know I feel the same way!

  3. Thank you for sharing this! Like Ashley shared, I think my experience in other countries has made me really thankful to be able to trust the election results and to not fear large scale corruption. I studied at a university in Lviv, Ukraine in 2004, in the time leading up to the presidential election. I heard professors and students voicing fears about corruption and voting fraud and attended lectures where they were discussing what to do if that actually took place. It did, and the Orange Revolution was their reaction. The whole experience made me thankful for the freedom of choice that we are priviledged with in the States.

    1. Oh wow! Was that mainly non-violent demonstrations/civil disobedience? Didn't they end up with a revote and the other guy then won?

      I don't remember tons - sometimes hard to keep up on the news outside of our part of the world...

      Glad these words encouraged you. :-)