So You Think You Are Too Old?

          Think again. I was fortunate enough at the last election to be re-elected to my local school district Board of Trustees. This is my sixth term. That’s a long time to be “getting older. ” I was not a spring chicken when I got elected the first time. This election was after my 93rd birthday. Not only did I win, but I received the highest number of votes of six candidates. I am humbled and grateful. Folks at the local level know the motivation of their local folks running for office. It matters.

       Our attitude about serving is truly not a matter of age. It is a matter of how we choose to live our lives. Any age is ripe for service or not. If we get up every morning with the idea hat we want to make a difference, the choice has been made. If we wake up every morning grateful for the gifts and talents that we have been given, we will use them in positive ways. We will be ready when opportunities present themselves.  We will carve out time to do things that many never “have tome to do.” We will govern our day, each day, with a set of values and principles that seek the joy, the grace, the positive in seeking to serve.

          In the years I have served on the School Board, I have often been “reminded “of the thankless task it is.” Sometimes it heads in that direction if I forget for a moment why I am serving. It can never be thankless if a policy or decision makes a difference in one kid’s life. If my continued willingness to serve, to make tough decisions (sometimes unpopular ones), to show courage and commitment in all I do, my presence will be worth it. When the teachers, parents, and learners see my passion for a school system that serves them, they will trust and commit to the process of making it better.     

          Often I hear the  expression, “I’m just too old.” And there are various endings to this expression: to start something new; to learn to use the computer; to care; I did my share; to make a difference. I will admit that the American culture often appears to put older people on the shelf, in the rocking chair, or pretend that those older folk are in a blissful state of retirement.  But I think our nation needs the wisdom of its seniors. Our local institutions need the informed service that seniors can bring. Our young need the mentors and models that we can be.

          If you think  you’re too old, think again.    


If You Didn’t Vote–Shame on You

            You can tell me till the cows come home that it wouldn’t matter, or all politicians are the same. I’ve heard  many more excuses for not voting. Why bother; my one vote won’t count. I don’t like the candidates. My pick didn’t win the primary. I don’t really care. I don’t even know what the propositions are about. I don’t listen to the news. I am so tired of the campaigning, I don’t want to vote for anybody.  All the candidates do is fight. With all the television ads, the stuff on the other media, and all the telephone calls and printed material, I am too confused to vote.

            What is even more troubling than all the excuses, is the lack of knowledge about the election. I have seen interviews with people in our United States of America who don’t know what the election date is. Some interviewed do not know how many Senators there are. And many do not know their representatives. Others are not even aware of how many states there are in our republic. And on and on the amazing answers come. The responses to questions about basic facts related to the political process are striking. Shame on us for allowing our schools to be so derelict in teaching our children about their country. Shame on us for not teaching our citizens what they need to know to be informed citizens. Being born in America makes one a legal citizen; it certainly does not automatically make one an informed citizen, a citizen who would understand the privilege and responsibility of the vote.

            Our Founders gave us such a unique opportunity when they created our system of government. They pledged everything to create our founding documents that created our republic . They created a system of checks and balances. True, our Constitution has been challenged at times. But to be part of this noble experiment in government is a blessing. We have the privilege on election days in our country to help steer the ship of state. Shame on us if we do not even get aboard the ship. Shame on us if we pretend there is no ship. Shame on us if we don’t even see the ship.

            We are on the same ship. Ignoring that fact does not make it true. We have only one ship, guided by our North Star, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We get to choose the crew. Every election we get to exercise our right to fire and hire those folks who will shepherd our ship of state.

            Our heritage was declared when brave individuals signed the Declaration of Independence. Many of those brave men paid a heavy price to secure our freedom. Shame on us if we aren’t willing to go to the ballot box. Shame on us if we aren’t willing to be involved in the process that is the continuing path to maintain our freedom. Shame on us, if we think our vote doesn’t matter. Shame on us if we don’t care.

            Shame on you if you didn’t vote. I don’t have the right to judge, you say? Remember, I am on the same ship as you are. We will reach safe harbors together; we will see magnificent sunsets and sunrises together; or we will hit the shoals together if we do not take care of our ship.

            Shame on me if I don’t help my shipmates understand their legacy, their great blessing as a citizen in these United States of America. Shame on me if I don’t insist that our schools teach our children, all our citizens, about what they have: freedom like no other place in the world.

            And now dear folks, it is time to start getting informed for the next election. Getting informed as a citizen starts now.