This seemingly endless season of campaigning is almost over. Only one more day, and it will all be behind us; that is, for this election. There will be many more in the future, which is why I think it critical to learn from my 7 year old son.
I currently live in East Texas. Within in the next couple of months we’ll be moving to the Phoenix area, but for now – and for the last 16 years – this is where my family has called home. It is a rural area, filled with farmers and others used to dealing with a 45 minute round-trip to pick up a Domino’s pizza since they won’t deliver this far out.
My wife and I vote at a local library/community center. With its creaking hardwood floors and deeply embedded smell of old white people, it is like stepping into the deep South from 50 years ago. Needless to say, the people that vote at this same facility are typically over the age of
104 60. Each time I walk in it feels as if I should be presenting a hot apple cobbler as the price for entry.
(This is where we vote. It is the Noonday Community Library)
Now that you can see it, smell it, and have a feel for it, what I am about to tell you will make much more sense.
Last week I went to vote early since I knew my trip to California would keep me from voting on election day. Two of my boys were with me, ages 5 & 7. Before we walked in I reminded them to be respectful, to talk softly, and to look people in the eyes when they talk to someone.
So we walk in, and get in a surprisingly long line to vote. It is quiet, as a library should be. We are in line right behind an elderly couple. The friendly old man turned around, looked at my son, and joked with me, “You sure are starting them early, aren’t ya?” I replied, “Yes sir. I’m teaching them about the freedom we have to pick our leaders.”
My 7 year old isn’t a jokester. He’s a thinker. Almost all of the time, he thinks before he speaks. Almost.
So he decides to blurt out – quite confidently – in the middle of this old, smelly library in East Texas, “Yes sir. I’m voting for Barack Obama.”
The old man looked at me and gasped. I thought his pacemaker was about to jump out of his chest. Could this boy be serious? Should he be spanked for what he just said? I looked at him, smiled, and just shrugged my shoulders.
I couldn’t help but think about my son’s comment for the next few days. We had never talked about specifics of the election, but we are teaching him greater lessons that apply to the election. I think there is much we can all take away from it:
- Do you believe God is Sovereign? If so, act like it. Why are so many of us up in arms thinking that if the “other” candidate is elected, all Hell will break loose? Take a deep breath. Remember, you are revealing to your kids just how sovereign your God is.
- Do you offer respect to people as a gift they don’t deserve? Some of you just love to quote your talk radio. It spews all-too-easily. You love to pass on the latest party quote and explain how true it is. The truth is, both candidates have their “warts.” Every candidate will. There is none perfect. Nope, not one.
- Are you teaching your kids how freedom isn’t free? Many military men and women have laid down their lives to make sure we could remain free. Voting is one way we can honor their sacrifice. Jesus laid down his life for us, to set us free. Voting provides a good opportunity to explain to your kids how freedom is costly.
- Are people that are different from you bad, or just different? We love to villainize people different than us. Kids will take this and run with it. What started off as belittling people who vote differently than you can quickly turn into making fun of the child with special needs at school.
My son likes to root for the winning team. When we are watching a game on ESPN, he looks at the score first, and then decides who he likes. Maybe this is why he said what he did about Barack Obama. He knows he is the president, so he is placing the vote for the “winning” candidate. Or, maybe he understands politics and has made a well-thought-through decision to place his vote for him. I don’t know.
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.”