It’s Election Day! I hope you get out there and exercise your right to vote for who you want to be Senator, Congressman, Comptroller…President. You are free to do that.
I’m reading a book called “The Girl with Seven Names” by Hyeonseo Lee. Hyeonseo escaped from North Korea and a brutal life under a dictatorship. She didn’t even know the extent of her own bondage until years later. She lived in fear of things like the mandatory home portraits of Kim Il-sung and his son, Kim Jong-il getting dust on them and the almost assured punishment that would follow such a disrespectful crime. She lived in a dark world where information was restricted, lest the people of North Korea form free thoughts and opinions. Hyeonseo was not free.
My fellow Americans, do not be deceived, we are free. Your life may not be perfect. There’s still work to be done in this country, I’m not saying it’s a perfect world. Your life may not be what you want it to be, but you are free to change it. You are free to speak against our President, against our government, against our very Constitution without fear of punishment or retribution. Hyeonseo was not. She wasn’t even free when she finally escaped to China, constantly under the watchful eyes of the Bowibu looking to bring back escaped North Koreans. Hyeonseo had to watch her back, had to hide in plain sight, had to change her name seven times in the course of her life just to stay alive.
I’ve heard a lot of negativity in this election cycle. A lot of talk about how scary our country has become and how much people are wishing for the “good old days.” I hope you think about what the “good old days” looked like for so many people in this country. For minorities, women, immigrants…they were not good days.
Freedom comes at a price. The price is moving forward. The price is allowance and tolerance and understanding. That is a price that North Korea refuses to pay. And a price that America paid a long time ago. Think before you talk about this great nation. We don’t need to be made great, we already are. And those who are still fighting for rights deserve the chance for the same freedoms that I (a privileged, white, American, female) take for granted.
Reading Hyeonseo’s story has me thanking God for my own, flaws and all. And doubly has me thanking God for my country. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave. Don’t let anyone tell you different. If you spent a day in Hyeonseo’s shoes, you might think differently about this great nation!
Vote well. Vote wise. But most of all VOTE!!
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!” –‘Let America Be America Again’ by Langston Hughes