I’ve heard it said that you don’t get to complain if you didn’t vote. I think that idiom distracts us from what is really important, and what is really happening in our minds and souls. The opportunity to complain with impunity isn’t what we most care about, and this post isn’t even about voting.
No, I think we are more scared of unintended consequences from our choices, and of suffering for our choice. It’s much more comfortable to let someone choose for us, to let things happen to us rather than to make things happen.
Take fire doors.
I remember one thing distinctly from my onboarding into the union of the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation, and that was to not tarry below a fire door. Up until that day, I had no idea what a fire door was. These were massive steel doors hung over key doorways. In the event of a fire (a fire in a coal power plant could turn into an unimaginable inferno) these doors could be released and come crashing down in the doorway – effectively separating the two regions of the power plant.
Ok, step one is don’t stand under the fire door lest it crush you. That’s an easy enough way to save yourself from an unfortunate death.
It’s the question about step two that makes us uncomfortable, which side do I stand on?
And that’s the crux of it all – you must make a choice. When disaster comes calling, you better be on the right side of that door. That same steel curtain could be the protector standing between you and a painful demise, or if you’re on the other side and running from the flames, it could be the end of your road. As Colin Meloy sings in Rox in the Box “and it’s one, two, three, on the wrong side of the lee. What were you meant for?”
There comes a time in life when you cannot abstain. A time when you must act, and I think now is a good a time as any to ask that question. What are you meant for?
Pontius Pilate sought to abstain. He tried to abdicate his responsibility for murder. He washed his hands and told the mobs that Jesus death and blood were on their heads, and not his. When questioned by God on whether he ate forbidden fruit – Adam said that Eve ate, and she gave him some to eat.
Esther bucked that trend. In her place of security, she had ample opportunity to hide behind the laws, to hide behind the status quo. She chose to risk all of that, to risk her very life, for the good and right cause.
We so often look for someone else to make the choice, someone else to hold the reins of responsibility. Let us not wait for those in power to make things right, for those with the authority to make it easy to do the right thing.
When we come face to face with the time that we are meant for, may we all choose, and take action, as Esther so beautifully did.