Today I Voted For Peace. 2006

Today I Voted For Peace
By Steve Clemens. September 2006

Today I voted for peace: I mailed my absentee ballot with an X by the candidate who calls us to bring the troops home NOW! (Keith Ellison).

On Primary Election Day (Sept. 12), I will be voting for peace by walking for prisoners. The Prison and Jail Project in Americus, GA is sponsoring the annual 100 mile FreedomWalk to raise awareness for and of the people in jails and prisons in southwest Georgia. My vote (walk) for peace is a call to stop demonizing and instead work for healing, restitution, and reconciliation rather than punitive punishments.

I voted for peace when I traveled to Iraq in December 2002, three months before this new manifestation of war against the Iraqi people which really has been on-going since the economic sanctions were put in place in 1990 and the bombing began in earnest on Dr. King’s birthday (oh, the irony!) in 1991.

I voted for peace when I spent 20 years of my life helping organizations build affordable housing for families in need. There is no peace (certainly not the SHALOM the scriptures call for) when people are hungry, homeless, or in need.

I vote for peace every Wednesday morning when I join 30-50 others in a vigil outside the entrance to a company that profits by making weapons of war and indiscriminate destruction. Alliant TechSystems must not be allowed to make such weapons such as cluster bombs, land mines, and depleted uranium munitions without our voicing our “vote” of NO!

I voted for peace when I joined millions of other citizens around the world on a February Saturday in 2003, marching in the streets saying a war on Iraq will not heal the wounds and scars of 9/11. Voting in the street is an important part of informing our public policy-makers.

I voted for peace when I crawled under the chain-link fence “protecting” Fort Benning from the 19,000 peaceful demonstrators calling for the closure of the School of the Americas and I again voted for peace when I walked willingly into the Federal Prison in Duluth this past spring to “serve” my three month sentence. Hopefully, that kind of vote can let my “representatives” know without any doubt about the seriousness of my convictions (pun intended).

I voted for peace when I purchased a hybrid car in order to consume fewer of our earth’s dwindling natural resources – certainly one of the more significant causes of war in our world today.

I voted for peace when I submitted my application as a conscientious objector in 1968 to the war on Indochina and voted again for peace in 1974 when arrested at the White House calling for our government to honor the Peace Agreement we signed.

I voted for peace when I attended the installation of a lesbian minister in a local Lutheran Church several years ago, signaling that my vote for peace is also a vote to not allow those considered “different“ in our society to be marginalized and discriminated against without my protest.

I vote for peace when I make my financial donations to the Center for Victims of Torture, The Nonviolent Peaceforce and the Christian Peacemaker Teams, Mennonite Central Committee, Jubilee Partners and The Open Door Community, and numerous other groups working to feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, visit the prisoners, heal the sick, perform the “works of mercy” and work for reconciliation and justice.

I take my vote seriously but I don’t confuse my marking an X beside a candidate’s name as fulfilling my political duty. My electoral vote might be the least significant of the many other opportunities I have been given to “vote” with my body, my time, and my money. Until politicians know we will back up our votes with our lives, they will not need to take us or our “politics” very seriously.