Wednesday, November 17, 2010

No Better Time Than the Present

The surprising release of Aung San Suu Kyi reminded me of a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.
The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice
At times I am skeptical of the idea expressed in this quote. However, moments like this make you at least hopeful that it could be true. We also recently watched Burma VJ, a great documentary about the 2007 protests against the military junta in Burma. The documentary focused on a small group of journalists that continually risked their lives to capture and share photos and videos of what was going on in Burma. Their struggle to tell the story of the Burmese people highlighted the importance of an engaged citizenry. The excitement in their voices as mass crowds turned out to support the marching Buddhist monks was infectious.

Such moments are rare in U.S. politics and it can be easy to become apathetic and cynical about democracy and our place in it. However, we need to recognize that, around the world, billions of people are struggling for their right to representation. Democracy cannot function well without constant support and engagement with the people. Even small steps, like voting, help ensure the accountability of your government. And if you feel like your vote doesn't count, think back to the constant struggles throughout U.S. history to extend the vote to different groups. If everyone who thought their vote didn't matter actually voted...well, lets just say it would count.