Week 45: If you only do one thing this week ...
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This Week's Topic: If you only do one thing this week ...
This week 24 years ago - the day after she'd worked the polls of the 1984 presidential election - my grandmother Arlene died. I was 11 years old at the time, but the fact that my grandmother - a school cook, loving wife and mother of 7 - worked at the polls every election day for nearly two decades wasn't lost on me. Being born in South Carolina before women had the right to vote wasn't what had kept her from the voting booth for years into adulthood. It was Jim Crow era laws that had denied her and so many others their right as American citizens. So when that era ended, she never took for granted the precious opportunity to cast her ballot and to ensure that others could cast theirs.
On Tuesday, we all have that precious opportunity. I was flabbergasted a few weeks ago when a woman told me she doesn't plan to vote. I didn't let her out of the conversation until she reconsidered.
Whatever it takes this week, get to the polls. Take others with you. Call everyone you know and make sure they will vote on Tuesday. No excuses. Many Americans, of all backgrounds, fought and even died for us to have the right to choose the leaders who represent us. Honor those sacrifices by casting your vote. And pass along to the young people in your life a sense of history that helps them understand the importance of voting.
During my summers at my grandparents' house, there were many moments we spent chatting - and inevitably they would share with me what life was like growing up black in the rural South during the Depression. Their stories of hardship, love and perseverance were one of the greatest gifts I've ever been given. It made clear to me that the opportunities that lie at my feet are so much greater than anything they ever imagined for themselves. I could not imagine having to drop out of school in the fifth grade to help my family make ends meet as sharecroppers, as my grandfather did. I couldn't imagine the limits of racism that they faced. So I made a decision at a young age to honor them by taking advantage of the opportunities that exist for me that didn't exist for them - whether in education or business or simple civic duties like voting.
My family history may not be the same as yours, but if you are an American citizen, we have a shared history. And we have much in common this Tuesday - the chance to exercise our right to vote. If you only do one thing this week, let's do that together.
My challenge to you this week:
Vote! Take someone with you - even if a child to whom you can transmit the value and importance of voting.
What do you appreciate most about America? Besides voting, how can you pass along a sense of history and perspective to a young person in your life?
Until next time ...
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Valorie Burton, a life coach and speaker, is the author of Listen to Your Life, Rich Minds, Rich Rewards, What's Really Holding You Back?, Why Not You? and her latest, How Did I Get So Busy? The 28-Day Plan to Free Your Time, Reclaim Your Schedule and Reconnect with What Matters Most. Subscribe to her FREE, inspirational e-newsletter at www.valorieburton.com.
Please feel free to forward the Rich Minds, Rich Rewards E-Newsletter to friends and colleagues, but please forward in its entirety. The Rich Minds, Rich Rewards E-Newsletter is written and distributed by Inspire, Inc. Copyright (c) 2008 Valorie Burton. All rights reserved. www.valorieburton.com.