Today is Election Day. Today, as a nation, we decide our fate for the next four years. And the consequences of our vote might be with us forever. Who will we elect to be our president, and what will our destiny be? Only time will tell.
Voting is important. Be sure to go to the polls and cast your lot for our future. Your children and grandchildren are depending on you to do the right thing. Vote your conscience. Vote for candidates who best represent your worldview and your hopes for our future.
I learned the value of voting my conscience way back when I was a sophomore at Carbon High School. Being a country boy from the wilds of south Wellington, I had never seen anything quite like a big high school election before. There was a blue candidate and a white candidate for student body president because those were the school colors. There were blue and white signs all over the school urging me to vote for the respective candidates, and pretty girls were trolling the halls passing out blue and white armbands so we could all show our political affiliation. Of course, the armband I accepted had more to do with the charm of a pretty girl than any inclination to vote a certain way. My white armband was a flag of surrender. Good campaign workers are important when it comes to winning elections.
And then, at the very height of election fever, I ran into Dave the janitor. Some of you senior citizens will remember Dave. He was the nicest old guy - probably in his 40s when I knew him. Dave was small in stature, always smiling, and going about his business keeping the sacred halls of Carbon spotless. He always wore a green shirt and pants, an unofficial uniform, and I remember him trudging along with a mop bucket in tow, on his way to clean up the latest mess some kid had made in the cafeteria. Dave was a custodial first responder.
Dave saw me wearing the white armband the pretty girl had seduced me into wearing. He smiled because he knew what had happened.
"You gonna do right and vote white?" he grinned, parroting the official campaign slogan.
"I guess," I said sheepishly.
"You can always vote for me," he said. "Vote green. I'll keep your toilet clean."
Being a green candidate had a different meaning in those days. Being green might mean you were sick, or from Mars or something. Come to think of it, for me, the meaning hasn't changed all that much over the years. Anyway, Dave said he was running for student body president on the green ticket but his name wasn't on the ballot and he didn't have any green armbands or pretty girls to hand them out. If we wanted Dave to be our fearless leader we would have to write him in.
"Why should I vote for you?" I asked.
"Because I'm your humble servant," he said with a big smile. "Those other guys want to stand in the spotlight and lead the parade. I unlock the doors, scrub the floors, and do the chores. I'll work for you. I already do. I can be the school president, too."
I laughed at Dave, but what he said stayed with me for a long, long time. Dave was absolutely right. Jesus said it, too. He who would be greatest among us should be our humble servant. Since talking with Dave, I've always tried to judge political candidates by his measure. Is the motive service, or self?
Isn't it funny? During my high school days I had dozens of highly educated, well-trained, professional teachers. And yet, one of the people who made the biggest impression on my young life was Dave, a school janitor. I learned a great deal during my brief discussions with Dave as he pulled his mop bucket through the halls or danced with his broom in the auditorium. That good man was a humorist, a philosopher, and a pragmatist all in one. He taught me some valuable lessons about life through his insights, humor, wry sarcasm, poetry, and parables.
I never told anybody, but I voted for Dave to be student body president back in 1963. It's the only time I ever voted for a green candidate.
Thank you, Dave. Wherever you are.