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Monday, October 29, 2012

Stand up for someone this election season

A case for voting with your empathy foot forward

Last year, my son stood up to someone who was taking horseplay too far and crossing the line into bullying. He stood up to his own friend on behalf of a kid who was not a friend. Afterwards, the boy who had almost gone too far thanked my son and told him he’d been right to stop him. I can’t recall a time I’ve been more proud of my kid.

This election season, I’ve found myself thinking about what it means when we stand up for someone, even if that person is not our friend, not in our community, and perhaps quite different from us. I’ve been thinking about apathy and about those who consider not voting because they don’t feel certain that the candidates represent them or reflect their needs or beliefs. I’ve been thinking about people who believe that their vote won’t make a difference in their own lives and therefore refrain from voting.

To me, voting is the epitome of standing up for someone else. When we vote, we have the opportunity to stand up, as my son did, for someone who needs backup, even when that person is not a friend.

So this year…

- If you believe that those who live in low-income circumstances need a country which affords them the opportunity to achieve, vote.

- If you believe that the children of families quite different from your family deserve a safe, respectful start in life, vote.

- If you believe that hard work should result in improved earnings and security, vote.

- If you believe that something that might incrementally improve your own circumstances is less important than something that others need more critically, vote.

This year, I’ll be thinking about some of the amazing people whose stories we’ve read on the Benevolent site, thinking about what they might need, thinking about their children, and I’ll be voting.

One person I’ll be thinking about will be Stefanie. Stefanie is really different from me. She was a teen mom, made some decisions that derailed her life, and has been without permanent housing for about six years. Now she’s about to get a job, be ready to pay her own rent, and reunite with her daughters.

I want her to succeed. I want her kids to have stable, successful lives. So, thinking about what will affect their lives, I’ll consider what it will take to ensure the availability of affordable housing, a job with a living wage, high quality education and health care for her girls, and I’ll vote.

This year, stand up for someone who needs, really needs, something that you can help make possible. 


- megan kashner, founder & ceo

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