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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tomorrow is Decision Day—Election Day!

Anthony Pellegrino

Will tomorrow be an ememainimo (choosing by closing our eyes) day or a serious thoughtful selection day? Will we vote through guesswork, choosing the candidates we recognize as relatives or friends? Or will we spend a few minutes thinking about our vote, which could further hurt our country by voting for the wrong person or improve it through thoughtful selection of the proper candidate? Will we be a thoughtless voter or a thinking voter who wants to change and improve our community? Which will we be?

For the past several months we have been blasted with posters along our highways with the faces of so many candidates. All of them wore a big smile. Each had the words: “Please vote for me!”

How many of them explained to us their background? What have they been doing before trying to become legislators? What education and training do they have for the position they are striving to win? How many truly understand our real situation? How many of the candidates explained why they want to be legislators or be re-elected?

We are always reminded that when we go for a job interview we should have a well-prepared résumé explaining all about ourselves and which clearly states why we seek the position. Yet have any of us seen such a résumé of any of the candidates? Why not? Are we supposed to vote for them only because they are a relative or someone with a big flashy smile?

Let us consider that one’s actions will affect other people. Here is and an account of two friends who were out on a lake in a rowboat. One fellow took out a small drill and began to drill in the floor of the boat. His friend was flabbergasted. “Are you crazy? What are you doing? You will make a hole in the bottom of the boat. The water will flood in and the boat will sink. We will both drown.”

The man with the drill replied, “Don’t worry. I’m just drilling the hole under my seat.” What the driller forgot and what we must always remember: all human beings are interconnected at the deepest level. What happens to one happens to all. When one person hurts, every other person hurts. When one person prevails, every person prevails. This is why your thoughtful vote is important.

Too often we forget that we belong to the great “family of man” and as such must assume responsibility as a member. One of the golden rules is: We must not separate ourselves from the community. The community is us.

Shortly after World War II, not long after his release from a Nazi concentration camp, Pastor Martin Niemoller, a German theologian, said: “In Germany, they first came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionist, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Catholic. Then they came for me. By that time, there was no one left to speak up.”

What do the two above little stories have to do with our voting tomorrow? The saddest thing about what is happening to us today is that even though we are on a downhill roller-coaster in our economic life, many of us are afraid to speak up. We still insist on not acting to correct our course because of fear. Instead we create more infighting and more distrust.

How loud and often do we hear the following: “I don’t trust him.” “He cannot be trusted to work with.” Lack of trust seems to scream out loudly today with all the talk of a corrupt government and the attempt at impeachment of our governor. What has happened to us that we don’t trust each other?

To me TRUST is the most important character trait of a person. Without trust, a person is only a shell. Trust is the most frequently used frame of reference for our relationship with our families, our friends, our co-workers, and with the people we elect to office. So tomorrow choose wisely and carefully. When we enter the ballot booth we stand alone with our conscience. Tomorrow let us decide carefully and wisely. Can we trust the candidate that we will vote for?

Let us recall the words of Thomas Paine uttered on Dec. 23, 1779: “These are the times that try men’s soul’s….I thank God, that I fear not. I see no real cause for fear…By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; but with cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils.”

On March 4, 1933, while the United States was at the bottom of the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, spoke the following inspiring words in his first inaugural address: “This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. …Let me assert that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. …Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. …Plenty is at our footsteps but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. When there is no vision the people perish. …The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.”

Those of you who are asking us to allow you to lead us must lead us boldly and without fear. To fear or to waver is to plunge us further into confusion and chaos. If you are not strong and determined during these trials, we may not have a community left after the smoke clears. If your do not have the courage, then please drop out of the race.

The solutions are in front of us. But you, candidates, must show integrity, honesty, sincerity, and a willingness to negotiate. We the community will back you and the United States will also back you.

As we vote on Tuesday, we, the citizens, beg those of you who are elected to lead us boldly and unselfishly. Wherein lays the fortitude of our forefathers that forged these islands into the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands?

Stop hiding behind party walls. The more you shout you are a Democrat, Republican, Covenant, or an Independent, you lose your strength and become a follower. Find your beliefs, set goals to them and stand erect and champion them. To do any less is like a soldier cowardly running away from battle. We, the people, place our trust in you starting tomorrow.

I respect all of you who are running for office. I am not suggesting who we, the citizens, should vote or not vote for. What you are asked to do is not easy, yet not impossible.

Please stand tall and LEAD US! We want to say to each candidate: “I believe in you!” Prove to us that our trust in you will not be misguided or abused!

A final reminder to all of us who will vote tomorrow: Think about the kind of community we want. Decide which candidates will most likely match our goals and then vote those candidates into office whether they are relatives or strangers. Let’s do it for the country we want. We have the golden opportunity to correct all the anger, mistrust, and corruption we have been exposed to in the past years. We know the truth of what is happening on our beloved islands. Let’s correct it tomorrow. Let’s not forsake this moment!

And let’s do it with a huge smile on our faces as we enter and exit the booth. The smile will light our direction. Have a great day and see you at the polls!

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