STORY BY JESSICA LYNK
The day after Election Day, I went to a presentation on peacemaking in Nigeria. I walked in looking for extra credit, and I walked out with a new perspective on life.
It is not everyday that I’m reminded about a country that exists where people feel threatened going to a poll booth. I’ve grown up my whole life thinking that voting is a right given to everyone.
Of course, I’ve read on Associated Press about how 200 girls in Nigeria were taken in the middle of the night and no one knows where they went. I am aware we live in a very well-off country. I do not live in a bubble, but last week there was a man standing in front of me, telling me about how people in his country are afraid to vote because a poll booth promotes violence.
That is when it hit me. Last Tuesday night, the anger which filled my social media feeds about the election results seemed wrong. We live in a country where we are allowed to exercise our right to vote without being attacked. We can walk to a poll booth and vote for whomever we want. No one is going to kill us based on that decision. No one is going to bomb the poll booth.
I understand it’s our right to tweet whatever we want, even if it is complaints about the new candidate or the election outcome. But I think we should take a second and think before we send that tweet. We should remember that we are lucky we even have a say in who represents our state because plenty of people in this world do not.
Don’t get me wrong, I promote free speech, but I do think we should take a second to be thankful for our government and how it is set up. If I don’t agree with a candidate’s beliefs, I can vote for another one. If he wins, then I move on with my life and hope he remains more in the middle than anything. In two years, I can vote to change said candidate. Yes, it can affect someone’s life in the way that she may not be able to get an abortion or marry the same sex, but her safety is not compromised. Obviously those rights are important as well, but we can fight harder for them and hope someone budges.
By stepping back and accepting that it may be okay if a certain state went red, we can appreciate that at the end of the day we can walk to a polling booth without worrying for our safety, and that is a beautiful thing.
We live in a country where there is no fighting right outside our windows.
We can say what we want without a rebel group tearing down the doors. So, next time students think about tweeting about our “terrible” government, remember that in some places in the world the government can even provide safety at a poll booth.