“Put up or shut up”, “Put your money where your mouth is”, “Go big or go home”, “The piper always needs to be paid” or it’s variation “Time to pay the piper” … and now, “Vote your mouth” should be joining the crowded list of cliches on the public landscape. With all the talk of voting out the hooligans in Congress all the rhetoric stops in the voting both.
As an advocate for change among all political groups I find it refreshing, liberating and a bit lonely to be voting my convictions this season.
If you are wondering, I did not vote for a single incumbent!
For me, the journey to standing tall, albeit alone at times, began when I was 10 years old. It was during my tenth summer that I refused to go with my brother into the near by woods to light up some ill gotten smokes. Like many kids of my day, we’d swipe our parent’s cigarettes and steal away to a near by wooded area to act “older than our years” by smoking them. I was never able to tolerate inhaling the smoke, the coughing fits were more than I expected from such an effort. So, on this day I refused my brothers proddings to join him. I knew I’d won my first “Standing Alone Trophy” when he warned me of the consequences if I ratted him out, then off he scurried into the woods to smoke. I never smoked after that and he, on the other hand has had a life long struggle with it. Perhaps the turning point for both of us was that fateful summer day.
A time or two, when it never crossed my mind, another such “Standing Alone Trophy” would appear when someone
recognized (credited or blamed) me for doing so. This time I was 11 years old, living in an apartment complex on the outskirts of Washington DC, just minutes from the White House.
It wasn’t unusual to have friends from other countries, in fact, I thought it was quite normal since it had always been that way. My best friend, Paul, was from England, his father was an embassy worker. He was shorter than most and had a chip on his shoulder because of it; though Paul was popular with the girls drew some unsavory attention from one local thug named Frank. One day, Frank came looking for Paul and was going to teach him a thing or two.
It all started with name calling, first Frank insulted Paul, Paul returned with his own verbal attack not realizing Frank had it in for him all along. I heard the exchanges and came quickly to Paul’s side, insisting Frank to leave him alone.
I stood in Frank’s path at a critical moment and suddenly I, not Paul, had his full attention.
I pushed him back as best I could only to discover he could throw a solid counter punch to my best shove. Frank landed a blow flush to my cheek, so hard in fact that my tooth broke through my cheek and started to bleed. The bloody mess allowed me to exit without really ‘losing’ the fight, after all, I was wounded in the preamble to the real fight. I was taken to hospital and stitched up, both inside and out on my cheek. Later that night, Frank and his older brother appeared at our
door. Frank apologized for hitting me and showed me the cut on his knuckle from the blow. No one dared stand up to the bully Frank until that day, somehow his perceived power over the weaker ones was diminished thereafter. The second “Standing Alone Trophy” is now apart of my personal folklore.
I think it’s the moments we stand alone that define us, for good or bad, we are exposed to the universe for who we are. I “voted my mouth” this election season, the plan for reclaiming our government is a good one but only works if we are willing to stand alone, even if others quietly betray their own rhetoric and vote for the known candidates.