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Recently I was approached by an old high school friend who needed my help with educating young people on the importance and the power of the vote. When I finally decided to actually do it and bite the bullet and go home I knew I made the right choice. I had all my bullet points and arguments ready. I was ready to stand in front of a group of people and basically tell them what they should do. I was surprised when they already said they were registered to vote and more over they knew which presidential candidate they wanted to vote for. Now I'm looking at them with a ‘now what’ face.
I found myself sitting in a circle with a group of young people talking about what our world might look like after this election. I know that my focus has been solely on the presidential election to the point that I forgot that its time to vote for local government and keep them accountable. The script was reversed and the educator became the educated. I was not only informed about local officials, or sag local officials that had the best interest of the community in mind but also critical bills that are being brought up. Everything from solar panels to marijuana was discussed and the gambit of all possible situation and the outcomes.
The afternoon turned into night and I found myself still in the backyard of a woman whose name I cannot remember but smile I will never forget. Her kindness and willingness to open her home to strangers reminds me of my past in this city. When things began to get dark Christmas lights that lined the pergola were turned on, food was brought out, and music started playing.
I find that in darkness or the shadows that it gives off sometimes brings out the courage in people and they are willing to open up more about anything really. I ended up sitting with a group of people and talking about the latest scandal that surrounded the election. The conversation turned to secrets of past sexual assault or misconduct that happened to them or someone they know. Two of the girls that were there said they didn’t know if it was sexual assault because they didn't say no or stop when the brief interactions had happened. Why didn’t they report it? Because in their minds no one would have believed them anyway. What did they do after? They steered clear of the guy who ultimately transferred somewhere else. They feel like their voice doesn’t matter and that they would be slandered by social media. I believe the world is better than that. I believe that there is goodness that flows in abundance even through this tension filled time.
Florida will always be home to me. I know that more now than ever. I went there to talk about voting and having a voice and that night under a pergola I made new friends, heard new music and I shared in their pain. Their outlook on life is like tasting brightness and feeling hope dwell in the pit of my stomach. They did not dwell on what happened but I told them I did not mind sharing that burden.