Right or Privilege?

I spend a lot of time writing and thinking about being more appreciative of what I have. Of all the things I want to teach my children, I’d say an awareness of how spoiled North Americans can be is in my top three. We are the walking, talking inspiration for the lyrics in the Amy Allen song, “I’d start a revolution, if I could get up in the morning.”

We have so much, we can’t begin to use it all, and this clutter of blessings has blurred the line between what’s a right and what’s a privilege. We act as though everything we have is our right. But I’ve always heard that a right is something that can’t be taken away (although it may be blocked or denied). On the other hand a privilege is something you have to ask for that must be granted to you.

So, one week out from the presidential election, is voting our right or our privilege?

I have no doubt we could have quite the lively discussion on this. My husband and I certainly chewed on it for a while and I’m still not sure what the “correct” answer is. But I know what my personal opinion is: voting is my privilege – not granted by men, but given to me by a generation of remarkable women, on whose shoulders I stand.

Much the way some people watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” to get in the Christmas spirit, I’ve begun a new tradition of watching Iron Jawed Angels every election season. This 2004 HBO movie focuses on second wave suffragettes Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, and the ugly truth behind what it really took to pass the 19th amendment. It’s unsettling to say the least, but that good kind of unsettling – like the prayer that calls on the Holy Spirit to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

I know I’ll never start a revolution (no matter what time I get up in the morning). But, by God, I can stand in line next Tuesday. That’s kind of like marching on Washington, right?

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