TO WALK IN SOMEONE’S SHOES
Yesterday my local city, and all of the local cities in my state, held an election.
Many people pleaded with the State government to postpone it. But they went ahead, assuring people that the social distancing elements would be in place. And it probably was. But that was not why I chose not to vote.
For the week prior, as I drove down my street to my home, I was aware that every part of me felt repelled by the corflutes numbering in their twenties down my street. There was something about seeing them that caused me incredible heartbreak.
I sat in this feeling for the majority of the week.
My partner had found himself suddenly without work after a lifetime. His company had to stand down 400 people. All the suppliers of their business had to do the same….my friends and myself, business gone in an instant.
This so sudden. Everything upended, futures carefully crafted now impossible to piece together. For young people, just in work, hopes and dreams shredded.
For so many, fear as deep as the Mariana Trench. Paralysing. For some, those who have pre-existing conditions, terror of a disease. For so many, simply terror in how to make it through next week.
And in all of this, being asked to consider who they might vote for in their local election, to put aside the all consuming thought of survival.
When a mother in the horn of Africa spends her days focused on one thing…how to feed her child tonight, we do not ask her to consider the environment.
And while we in our still privileged world of voting in Australia have nothing on the uncertainty of the mother in Africa, for so many people this uncertainty has no precedence.
For this reason, I chose, for the first time in my adult life, not to vote. Because it violated every principle I hold about politics as serving people. About politicians being atuned to the ecology and times of the people they serve.
It took me all week to reach this decision. I personally knew people running for election, good people who had put their heart and soul into campaigning. I did not make this choice lightly. And I am aware many people do not agree with me. Many of those people are likely not at risk of not meeting their next rent payment.
The old saying….walk in someone’s shoes might be worth considering…
I am an ardent fan of democratic action. I believe more strongly in the power of citizens, people at the grassroots level taking a stand for the well being of all.
When our political leadership has lost touch with the people they serve, and instead insist on driving through their own agenda, we, the people, get to vote with our feet.
In Australia, where voting is compulsory, to not vote is a vote.
The timing of this election was off…this crisis might go on for months…but to postpone the vote would have been the compassionate thing to do.
To focus instead on responding to the needs of the people, the cities, the state, in crisis. As the first priority.
Photo taken March 29th, 2020
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