One of Them Was Mine

An unforgettable lesson from the voting booth

by Scott Morris

When I was 18, I voted in my first election. I was excited about participating in the democratic process. It was 1972, and the Vietnam War was winding down. I had missed Woodstock and most of the anti-war movement, but I was old enough to register for the draft. I wanted the war to end. I supported the civil rights movement. I believed in liberal causes almost as much as I wanted to be a successful baseball player. Truthfully, I was more interested in finding the right girlfriend, but I cared about issues of justice more than most teenagers.

I walked into the voting booth and voted for George McGovern over Richard Nixon. I voted for Jimmy Carter for governor of Georgia. And then there were all those other elections. I had no idea what they were. Clerk of the court, commissioner of this or that, and on and on. I didn’t recognize any of the names, so I just voted for the Democrat in every race. When it came to one race, there were several names, and I just picked one out of the blue. When it was over, I was proud of myself for voting for the first time.

The next day, I was glad Carter won and disappointed McGovern lost in a landslide. I then looked to see how my other candidates did. My vote for the unknown office with multiple names revealed I was one of only several hundred who voted for him. The headline read, “Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan only receives a handful of votes.”

One of them was mine.

This opened my eyes to the fact that injustice can happen very quickly if you are not paying attention.

When I was young, I searched for God through private, personal moments. I longed for a feeling where God was leading me forward. It happened from time to time. Almost unconnected in my thinking and feeling, I was developing a social conscience. What I didn’t see was how the experience of justice would also be a driving force for me to know God’s presence in my life. It has, in fact, been the most powerful force.

For years I would almost daily encounter an act of injustice that would make me see red. Immigrants, low-wage earners, manual laborers, families trapped in poverty—all on the wrong side of justice. Maria confined to an ankle bracelet after helping border security shut down a smuggling ring of illegals. George losing his small avocado farm to big agriculture. Charlie Supergluing his teeth together because he couldn’t afford dental care.

Some days I just want to throw up.

My sense of outrage wells up and I want to fight. But my being angry doesn’t help anything. God is not a referee looking to declare a winner. I have to sit back, take a deep breath, and ask myself, “How can I be of help in the struggle born of injustice this person is facing? What can I do for this person in this moment to add love and bring joy?” Seeking to know the side of justice where God sits is the first step.

From reading the Bible extensively, I’m confident God’s will is usually with those who have little. This means love is action. I must do love. And since love is the basis by which we know God, and are sure that God knows us, doing takes me where I want to be. Focusing on justice has pulled me into relationship with God.

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