“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
Proverbs 2:6

I was going to wait and write this at the end of October, but a couple of weeks ago Rebekah and I cast our ballots. So it’s happening, it will be happening for the next several weeks, and I want you to consider the following.

Please vote. The more people who participate the better off we all are. America is a huge chorus of voices, and the symphony of sound becomes richer, more harmonious, more complex, more resonant and more inclusive the more completely it represents the rich, diverse, beautiful, impressionistic, polyphonic masterpiece that is our nation.

Vote from your own heart and conscience, not in lockstep with those who want to absorb your free choice into their agenda. This means listening to many voices, doing your own research, understanding how flawed we all are and making an informed decision.

Our government was designed to function best in response to productive compromise. Extreme views can facilitate debate, but it is the moderates who work together to get things done. Let’s encourage cooperation rather than practice divisiveness.

Consider character more than party. America works better when we respect people we disagree with. So common threads such as decency, integrity, grace, constancy, compassion, reliability and morality must override party politics.

This is a snapshot of the process I use to help me determine how to vote. The last thing this country needs in this tense, fractious time is for us to abrogate our responsibility to be thoughtful, well-informed and prayerful when casting a ballot.

I don’t often do this, but I’d like to pray with you at the close of this column:

Loving God, this country we love is in the throes of a contentious election. Help us to honor the calling we have as citizens to be fair, civic-minded, open-spirited and gracious in our dealings with one another. The privilege of being a U.S. citizen comes with commensurate responsibilities, and the blessing of being your children comes with expectations too. Teach us your ways, Lord; and, please, heal our land. Amen.

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Derek Maul
Derek Maul has written for many news outlets, including the Tampa Tribune, The United Methodist News Service, All Pro Dad, FOCUS Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Presbyterians Today, Guideposts, Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other publications. Read Derek Maul’s daily blog posts at www.derekmaul.wordpress.com.