A life to bless all mankind

“Journalism is a public service and readers are best-served if I and the people I am writing about speak the same language.”

So wrote Jill Carroll, freelance reporter on assignment for The Christian Science Monitor, in a scholarship application shortly before her kidnapping in Iraq. The Washington Post reported.

At the time of my writing this column, the world still awaits the outcome of her ordeal. And I hope when this is published the world will have received good news. But her words are giving me pause today and I know they will continue to do so in the future.

Many newspapers have been writing about Jill. And many have shared more information about the newspaper she was writing for. Such as “The Christian Science Monitor was founded in 1908 by a woman, Mary Baker Eddy, who believed passionately in the power of prayer.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

The paper is owned by the church Mary Baker Eddy also founded. It is an international daily newspaper, winner of seven Pulitzer prizes, renowned for its balanced, in-depth news coverage of world events and issues. (www.csmonitor.com)

The Sun-Times also reported, “The paper has an implicitly spiritual mission, one that by all accounts Jill – a young woman from Ann Arbor, Michigan, who moved to the Middle East a few years ago because she wanted to understand the region and humanize the lives of its inhabitants – believes in with all her heart: ‘to injure no man, but to bless all mankind.’”

Jill has been dedicated to learning Arabic since her arrival to the region and it has been reported that she can speak Arabic well enough to easily talk to the Iraqi people and interview Iraqi officials.

But I think perhaps her idea of speaking the same language may go beyond the limits of verbal communication although certainly important. Perhaps the secret to speaking the same language is rooted in the stated mission of The Christian Science Monitor – “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind.”

How do we speak so as not to injure?

Qualities seen in Jill’s writing come to mind. Honesty. Sincerity. Empathy. Thoughtfulness. To name only a few.

I hope Jill will be writing for the world about the world again in the future. But perhaps her life and example will inspire and encourage us. Learn to speak to one another, our neighbors and strangers, our friends and foes, in such a way that enables us to live in peace and understanding each other.

Tolerate and accept there will be differences. Appreciate and honor varying viewpoints. Respect uniqueness of cultures. Believe there is one God regardless of many religious beliefs and practices. No one is greater than another in His eyes.

Her example is helping me share her passion. Her resolve. Her mercy. Her faith. Her hope.

For humanity’s sake, I’ll try to speak the same language to all I meet. A high goal? Maybe so. But if we all try, mankind will surely be blessed.

One vote can change the world

by Annette Bridges. © 2006. All rights reserved.

You say you never vote? Or maybe you’re too busy to take time to vote? Why should you bother? One vote doesn’t make a difference. Or does it?

Did you know . . . ?

In 1776, America’s primary language would have been German if it weren’t for the one vote majority in favor of English.

In 1845, one vote made Texas part of the United States. When the Senate voted on this issue, a tie occurred. Then one Senator changed his vote and by this single vote Texas became the 28th state.

In 1876, with the presidential election thrown into the House, Rutherford B. Hayes won by a single vote cast by an Indiana Congressman who himself had been elected by a one vote margin.

In 1923, one vote in the German Parliament gave Hitler leadership of the Nazi Party.

One vote can change a nation or even change the world. One vote can indeed make a difference. History has taught this.

In 2000, the presidential election was decided by 537 votes. Of the 186 million people who were U. S. citizens eligible to vote, 130 million were registered to vote. 111 million of the registered voters actually voted. That’s 19 million registered voters who didn’t vote. And another 56 million people eligible to vote who never registered. 21% of the registered non-voters said their reason for not voting was they were “too busy.” (U.S. Census Bureau)

People who don’t vote give up a chance to make a difference.

The core of American democracy is the right to vote. My vote is my voice. And I am duly aware that as a woman, the right to vote did not always belong to my grandmother. August 26, 2004 marked the 84th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the United States Constitution giving women the right to vote. I do take that voting right quite seriously. I honor this right as both my civic duty and a privilege.

A democracy is only as strong as its citizens’ participation in it. I believe that democracy in America needs the voice of each citizen. Without the voice of every citizen, a democracy will create a governing body that is not fully representative of the citizenry. Our voice, our votes make the American political system function effectively.

The Declaration of Independence speaks of a government that is established by its citizens. Of a government that is given its “just powers from the consent of the governed.” Consent that is given through the votes of its citizens.

If you are a citizen of the United States and eighteen or older, you have the right to vote in local, state and national elections. And all who want to vote can take the time to vote. In Texas, citizens have voter leave rights which mean employers must give employees the privilege of attending the polls without penalty. Consequently, no deductions may be made from the wages of an employee who takes time off to vote. There is an employer penalty up to $500 for violation of this law. (However, if polls are open for voting for two consecutive hours outside of the voter’s working hours, time off to vote doesn’t have to be provided.)

We are unified as citizens by our right to vote. Voting provides us the opportunity to agree to disagree and respect each other’s differing opinions. At the end of the day, we set aside our differences and are grateful we had the privilege of participating in a democracy. At least I know I am grateful for such a privilege. And my love for American democracy is far greater than my opinion on who should lead this great country.

Mary Baker Eddy, a 19th century best-selling American author, founder of a Pulitzer-prize winning newspaper, and creator of a spirituality and healing movement that continues worldwide today, never enjoyed the right to vote in this country. Even without that precious right to vote, she offered some extempore remarks one July fourth that included the following:

The Pilgrims came to establish a nation in true freedom, in the rights of conscience. But what of ourselves, and our times and obligations? Are we duly aware of our own great opportunities and responsibilities? Are we prepared to meet and improve them, to act up to the acme of divine energy wherewith we are armored? (Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896)

Voting in America is no longer restricted by race or sex. Let’s exercise this freedom. We are the future of our country. Voting gives you an important voice in determining your own future by electing officials who reflect your views and speak for you in legislative actions. These are our times. Our opportunities. Make sure your voice is heard on Election Day. Your vote can change the world.