How often are we told that elections have consequences? Yet how often do we ignore it. But that reality has hit home for many of us who have seen the very serious consequences recently of partisan politics showing its colors in the highest court of our country with the travel ban decision against Muslims entering the US from certain Muslim majority countries. We had already experienced the fallout from political hate speech normalized in Washington’s public discourse, that made our children become victims of bullying in their school classrooms and playgrounds. Now with the nomination by president Trump, of a second Supreme Court Justice within a year, who will decide on societal issues affecting the nation over next several decades to come, there can be little doubt on the importance of these consequences. Political engagement for us is no longer an option but a necessity of the times we live in. No longer do we have the luxury of being spectators from the sidelines.
They say every cloud has a silver lining. This cloud of the 2016 election which gave us Mr. Trump at least pushed us out of our sheltered self-obsessed existence, to search our own purpose and find our own voice. To be sure there will be much for us to learn in navigating this enormously confusing and corrupt system which challenges our naivety and our sense of values. Nevertheless, as a community of faith we cannot and should not betray the principles to which we owe allegiance: the principles of justice, compassion, courage and integrity. For in the final sense our engagement in politics should not be merely to determine winners and losers but to make choices which will lead to a more peaceful and secure future for all.
Our engagement in a system where money has so influenced the institution of democracy that the will of the people has no meaning anymore, demands of us the courage to break tradition and seek new paths. The recent rise of the students from Parkland, Texas, against the political establishment that for so long has been beholden to money and remained indifferent to the people’s will on common sense gun legislation, should be an inspiration to those of us who strive to overcome the influence of money in American politics. It is the intensity of pain and suffering some times that becomes the harbinger for change to happen. It is when you lose those you love dearly, who are innocent of any crime or fault, those you played and laughed with a day before, those who were there one moment and gone the next, there is no pain to match that pain, no argument to ease that hurt and no money that can right that wrong.
There is a tipping point for change we are told. For the brave students of Texas, that tipping point was the massacre of their colleagues and teachers last Valentine Day. Let us hope for us Muslims living in America and silently witnessing the tragic results of a political system so arrogantly defiant and so obviously corrupted by money, the tipping point has come following the 2016 election, to say enough is enough and declare ‘no more’.
It is time we refuse to remain in the shadows and make excuses for not voting on our beliefs. Not voting because we are too busy with our lives and our jobs. Not voting because of our apathy. Not voting because we think it does not make a difference anyway. Not voting because it is against our faith. Not voting for reasons, too many to count, too unacceptable to accept.
The question for us to answer is simple enough. Will we have the courage to rise and do what are the demands of our times? To speak truth to power and vote to declare our freedom from apathy, indifference and the fake belief that our votes don’t matter. For only when we are inspired by reason and moved by passion, when we are willing to make small sacrifices and not big excuses, can we hope to protect life and liberty in the society we live in and give liberty a new meaning and purpose in the democracy we practice.
The time has come. It is time to stand up and be counted, and do our part.
July 11, 2018
Azher Quader is a thinker, writer and Founder President of Community Builders Council, (www.cbc7.org) )a non profit organization, whose mission is to promote empowerment through education and engagement.