The Atlanta Lawyer — The Atlanta Lawyer November 2012
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Get Out There And Vote!
Lynn M. Roberson

Our current issue of The Atlanta Lawyer focuses on the election and the importance of voting. Many citizens leave the choice of president (and all the other elected positions) to those of us who care enough to exercise our right to vote. I guess we all may be better off if the election is decided by people who care enough to learn about the issues and take the time and effort to vote than if everyone participated, but it is difficult to understand why some citizens care so little about participating in a process that people around the world envy and for which so many of our forebears fought and died.

One need only look back on the people of the Middle East and the risks they took to participate in the voting process once they had won the right to vote and select their leaders.The turnout in the first Iraqi free election was very close to 100%. The fact that our own elections turn out less than half of eligible voters speaks to our complacency about our freedoms. But it was not so long ago (in fact, within my lifetime) that some of our citizens were barred from exercising their right to vote. All the more reason to cherish one’s right to vote and exercise that right whenever one can.

Look at the recent example of Malala, the young teen girl of Pakistan, who knowingly risked her life to take a stand for a girl’s right to an education in a country which has historically marginalized its female citizens. I am not sure I could ever demonstrate the courage of this young girl in opposing the positions of the Taliban. The Taliban – that “organization” which was so threatened by the words of one young girl that they had to send out an assassination squad to eliminate this dire threat to their hopes of returning an entire culture to the twelfth century. The fact that one young girl’s advocacy and opposition is perceived as such a threat by the Taliban demonstrates to us all what strong and virile men make up the Taliban. (I hope my sarcasm is patent) True warriors are not threatened or intimidated by opposing views. They do not feel the need to eliminate the opposition, but to win it over through education, persuasion, and endurance, qualities which always prevail over mindless violence.

Already we are seeing the world of sanity come to the aid of young Malala. Her own people have taken to the streets to protest the attack on her and support her position that girls should have the right to an education. Malala’s strength has only grown though this barbaric attack on civilization.
Her ideas and advocacy have received a far greater hearing because of the efforts to silence her. The Taliban’s strength has been greatly diminished by its cowardly assault on this courageous young girl. In light of her struggle and near death experience, her message has become ever stronger.More and more people who were too intimidated to speak out in support of her ideas have been moved to speak out in Opposition to her assault. Truth and justice truly are stronger than fear and intimidation. Non violent resistance is far more powerful than mindless violence and intimidation.

In light of the brave struggle of people like Malala, we all must cherish our hard won rights and freedoms. Perhaps it is only in the absence of a thing that we learn to appreciate the having of it. It is hard to imagine most school children in this country fighting and dying for the right to go to school.But if they were actually forbidden an education, perhaps they would appreciate it all the more.

I recall the lawyers in Pakistan taking to the streets in support of the rule of law and all of us wondering if we would have the courage to take such action should our own institutions be threatened. With luck, we will never have to find out.

The only way to insure we maintain our freedoms and rights, however, is to exercise and appreciate them. So, GET OUT THERE AND VOTE!