Thursday, October 21, 2010

Su Voto Es Su Voz (Your Vote Is Your Voice.)

Aye. . .
It’s election time again.

A couple of years ago,
I posted a video in this blog
that I thought was most ingenious
for many reasons
which I then detailed.
many in the offline world
accused me of supporting
the candidate who was the topic of the video.
You know,
we need to learn to say
when one political party
or candidate
is doing something right or good,
even if that’s not the party
or candidate of our choice.

I have never stated
in this blog
what party or candidate I support.
Because I think most people
should decided that for themselves.
This blog isn’t about
mixing religion and politics
or about
getting people to vote
in one way or another.

As I am living in this world
I have a responsibility to this world.
And a part of the responsibility
is choosing
who my leaders will be.
That is what this blog entry,
what previous blog entries
about elections
are about.

election time is upon us.
as usual,
everyone tries to tell me what to do,
how to vote.

I don’t mind some things.
For example,
a leaflet arrived in the mail just yesterday
explaining the proposals.
That’s useful information for people to have.
How many in Michigan
even know
that we have a proposal on the ballot
about a revision of the State Constitution?
Or a proposal about felons holding office?
that leaflet is most useful.
Would that more information like that arrive
maybe people would not just assume things.

I’m sick and tired
of people assuming
that I will vote in one fashion
and then
try to convince me
to vote the other way.

As I woman,
I must be voting this way,
so there are those who try to make me
vote another way.
Or worse yet,
there are still those out there
who behave as though
a woman cannot make an informed decision.

As Christian,
I must be voting conservative,
so some will try to make me liberal.

As a Latina,
I must be voting liberal,
so some will try to make me conservative.

A daughter of blue collar,
I must be voting Democrat,
so some will try to make me Republican.

Employed by the Church,
I must be voting Republican,
so some will try to make me Democrat.

I often wonder what people think
when they say certain things,
when they send me emails
or comment in social networks.

Do people think I am uninformed?
Do people stereotype me
and then send me comments
solely based on those stereotypes?

Do people think I don’t think????

I grew up in a very politically active household.
My father would register people to vote.
And then,
he would drive anyone who needed a ride to the polls
just so they could vote.
Although he clearly supported one political party over the other,
that really didn’t matter to him.
He just made sure
that people who wouldn’t otherwise get to the polls
got there and voted.
“Su voto es su voz,” he would say.
He even had a bumper sticker that said the same.
“Su voto es su voz.”
He would tell us that everyone needed to be heard,
even if we stood somewhere else.
“The important thing,”
my father would say,
“ is to get informed and
stand somewhere.”

Stand somewhere.
Boy, could some people use that advice today.
So much political jello.
Just get informed
and stand somewhere.

My father would take care of the poll workers, too,
bringing them coffee in the morning.
And then their lunch.
And drive people to vote in between, before and after.

I remember when he bought the Suburban.
From the outside,
people surely thought it was to
tote his kids around town.
From inside the house, however,
we all knew it was so he could drive
even more folks on election day!

If he believed in a candidate
he would give them his utmost support.
He even had all us kids involved, too.
I’ve past out literature on several occasions
and have even done
more than my fair share of phone banking.
I can honestly say
that even the grandchildren
have gotten involved.
My cousin, Amelia,
is behaving today
much like father did back in the day.
My dad’s actions
and words,
“Su voto es su voz,”
touched not only us, his kids,
but even the extended family.

He made sure that if he knew someone
was going to be out of town
that they got the absentee ballot.
I voted absentee for the last presidential election.
And I can honestly say
that I thought of my father
and his words,
“Su voto es su voz,”
as I filled in the form,
and again when I took the form in,
and again
when I watched the election results
on a tv monitor at the airport
as I waited for a connecting flight.
“Su voto es su voz.”
I can honestly say
that I felt like a part of the process,
no matter how small my input may have been.

To do this day
I cannot go through an election day,
any election,
without thinking of my father
and, and most especially, what he taught us:
“Su Voto Es Su Voz.”

I always find much humor in elections,
in the ads and in the debates.
I’m certain my father
is looking down from heaven
shaking his head
and laughing with us, too!

“Where in the Constitution
is the separation of Church and State?”

“The Rent is too damn high!”

“I’m you.”
(OK. . .
I chose the parody instead the actual video
for that link,
but she made me laugh anyway!)

And Sarah
made us laugh more times than I can count.

But I digress again.
My point is,
some politics
just makes you laugh out loud.

But I must say
that I’m just plain sick and tired
of what has happened
to the politicking in this country.

I am sick and tired
of racism
that tries to hide quietly under the veil patriotism.

I am tired of those
would promote a patriotism
that promotes hate.

I’m tired of those who would promote freedoms for some,
and take it away from others.

I’m tired of those
who talk a good game of “family values”
and would then rip a child from
a loving parent’s arms.

I’m tired of politics
that behaves as if
certain segments of the population
just don’t matter,
as though they are optional people.

And I’m just plain sick and tired
of negative ads.

You know,
negative ads can tell you a lot.
I find that the negative ads
have a reverse effect.
I think negative ads
reflect upon those
who created,
those who support those ads.

Some ads are just plain wrong.

“Don’t vote.”
That’s what one ad is saying.
that’s about as asinine
as it gets.

The ad is clearly targeted
for a specific group of folks,
as there are versions in Spanish
and in English.
And the topic is immigration.
don’t even get me started on immigration.

I have two relatives,
one of whom lives in my household,
who are processing immigration papers.
I have sat, many a time,
in the immigration office
located on Jefferson and Mt. Elliot.
I have stood in line,
a line that extends for many city blocks,
at the American Embassy
in Mexico City.
I have an immigration attorney’s phone number
always at hand,
programmed into my cell phone.

I went there:
the immigration topic.

I find it humorous
when people say that English proficiency
must be a requirement for citizenship,
as if it weren’t already,
so obviously uninformed.
I find it humorous
when people state
that drug lords and criminals
are the ones crossing the border illegally.
Do these folks even have any idea
what is going in Ciudad Juarez?
Again, so uninformed.
It makes me laugh out loud
when some people state that knowledge of the American government
should be a requirement for citizenship
(as if it weren’t)
and then some of those same folks
can’t even name their own reps.
I digress.

My point is
that this “don’t vote” video
is clearly targeted
to those folks
who so desperately
want and need immigration reform
to keep their families intact.

“Don’t vote.”
Why, on earth,
would anyone say that?

Would not a more logical video
say “don’t vote for them, vote for us????”

But no.
The video clearly states, “Don’t vote.”

Did they mean,
“Don’t vote because you don’t matter?”

Or maybe they meant,
“Don’t vote because you are optional to this country?”

“Don’t vote. YOUR family doesn’t matter.”

“Don’t vote because, well,
we don’t want to you to support those guys,
but we really don’t want you on our side either.”

“Don’t vote because we don’t want your voice heard.”

“Don’t vote because you are really aren’t an American anyway.”

“Don’t vote, just go away.”

This is far from political empowerment.
Telling people not to vote is not activism
(though it could be considered another kind if “ism”).

All this technology at our hands
and what are we doing with it?
What can we do?

we need to return
to a simpler time.
we should do what my father did.
Do little things.
Register people.
Drive people.
Feed people.
And say simple but profound things:
“Su Voto Es Su Voz.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Pedro Martinez; Ruega por nosotros.
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception,
Patroness of the United States; Pray for us.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Wedding Stories

It’s been a while
since I’ve posted something to this blog.
That’s for a lot reasons,
which I won't detail here.
But that surely doesn’t mean
that my mind has been running on empty!

Just this weekend
I was a part of the music ministry
for the marriage convalidations
at St. Gabriel.
These masses always make me reflect.
these couples,
these families,
seem to have really reflected
on what the sacrament means.
And you know,
that makes what I do
feel so special.

Over the years
I have encountered all sorts
of requests from people
for their (or their son’s or daughter’s) wedding,
requests that show that these particular folk
really didn’t have a clue
about the Sacrament,
about the Holiness that is Marriage.
And some,
it would seem,
really didn’t have a clue
about the Eucharist.

There was the bride
who asked if they could have a mass,
even though her spouse to be
wasn’t Catholic
and wasn’t converting anytime soon.
She asked if he could be given
a breath mint at the time communion
to make him feel like he was participating.
I wonder,
what did Eucharist mean
to this young bride?

There was the bride
who came extra early for her mass.
Her decor included silk roses.
She sprayed them all with rose smelling perfume
before her guests arrived.
Was this the detail she most worried about
on her wedding day?
If she really wanted this done,
could she not have asked a friend to do this
so she could focus on more important things????
I wonder what goes through people’s minds sometimes. . ..

There was the bride
who wanted the “Cinderella” mass.
She wanted her man
to try the glass slipper
on all of the bridesmaids
and, of course,
it wouldn’t fit
until The Bride came down the aisle.
When the pastor said
that this wouldn’t not be done,
she still insisted that the groom
wear his cape,
which was covered in peacock feathers.
I wonder,
what did people remember about this mass?
Did they remember the exchange of vows?
Did they remember the exchange of rings?
Or did they remember the feathers?

And then there was the bride
who couldn’t understand
why her dog
couldn’t be the flower girl.
I said a prayer for her as I wrote this paragraph.
She’s probably still mad at me.

And the couple
who wanted to do a butterfly release.
It stormed that day
with the lights flickering on and off.
At the end of the mass
no one went directly outside
as it was pouring rain.
They all just stood in the vestibule. . .
. . .and released the butterflies anyway.
And what do people remember about this ceremony?
Deceased butterflies???

There was the bride
who wore combat boots.
Neither she nor her spouse to be
were military.
Neither were their parents or siblings.
She just liked the way the combat boots
looked with her bridal gown.
I’m certain everyone in attendance
will remember this.
She lifted her dress slightly
as she walked down the aisle
to show her boots. . .
. . but does anyone remember
the vows?????

And then there was the mother of the groom
who hired me for the music.
I later found out that the mother of the bride
had hired Mariachi.
Neither the bride nor the groom
were aware of any of this.
Good thing I ALWAYS
check in with the bridal couple
when someone else inquires about music.

most of the weddings in recent years
haven’t been so weird.
I guess,
after having done this sort of work
for over 25 years
one is bound to have some stories to share.

Where does the weirdness come from?
Where does the gimmickry
and individualism come from???
I suppose I’ll never know for sure.

But you know,
the weird stories
make the special masses,
like the one I was part of Saturday,
all the more worth it.

One little girl,
who is a member of the children’s choir,
was there as her parent’s
were getting married.
I’m glad I could be there
and be a part of it.
No weirdness.
Just holy people
exchanging holy vows
in a holy place.
Couples being Eucharist to each other.
Parents being Eucharist to their children.

And you know,
the older I get
the more I appreciate
what marriage is.

And the older I get,
the more I just plain appreciate
The Eucharist.