‘I’m not doing it any more’ I said in disgust. ‘I’m not wasting my time voting when there is no one worth voting for!’ another comment I have made recently.
The reason for these and other statements over the last few weeks was that I was tired and disgusted at the state of Northern Ireland politics. The constant bickering, the sniping from the long grass at political opponents . The disrespect for other cultures in our country. Conscience clauses. They had worn me down.
Russell Brand and his mantra of don’t vote it is a pointless waste of your time, we the people can make the change around us and ignore the powers that be and live in some form of harmony outside of their control was starting to take hold and make sense.
I felt it was possible to love my neighbour, as I am commanded to do, without the input from politicians who seem to have lost all regard for the common good. I don’t need them, they don’t serve us as they should so why waste my energy and vote for them was my logic.
Then I watched Selma.
As the film progressed I became more and more uncomfortable in my seat. Not only simply due to the depiction of the events but more so the reason for the events in Selma.
Martin Luther King went to Selma to get something for his people that they were being denied. The right to vote. It was their entitlement made inaccessible because of the actions and prejudice of others.I have never been denied that opportunity. From the age of 18 I have faithfully and prayerfully gone to the polling station to do what I considered my duty as a citizen. My recent wobbles aside I believed that my vote was the one that could make a difference.
Selma reawakened that belief in me.
As I watched there was the uncomfortable realisation that not everyone here may have the right to vote. The many immigrant families, for example, who may never register or be eligible to register. Who speaks for them? Who knocks their door? Not everyone here has their voice heard.
The cry of the common good is that EVERYONE is taken into consideration, NONE are denied.
I HAVE to vote again. I have to try again to find that person I believe can do the best job for ALL communities, ALL people who live here.
To those that have already given up (which is a substantial percentage in NI) I fully understand how you feel. The thing is this is bigger than us. Bigger than our own personal issues and gripes with the system. It may never work out the way we hope.
However if we don’t use the rights afforded to us it may turn out a lot worse.