How much is America worth to you?
What would you sacrifice in order to stop the suffering you’re seeing every day on the news and on your timeline and in your neighborhood and in your living room?
How much would you be willing to lose if you knew you could alter the trajectory of this nation away from fascism and toward democracy?
What courageous, selfless acts might you be capable of if you were certain that you could be the difference in millions of human beings living or dying? Having voices or being silenced? Finding refuge or being brutalized? Marrying who they love or being denied the right?
If America were placed in your hands alone, how much would you give to protect it?
Would you be willing to be assassinated in front of your children?
Would you allow yourself to be beaten in the street until nearly dead?
Would you consent to be hung from a tree surrounded by a jeering crowd?
Would you slowly starve yourself until your body simply expired?
Would you intentionally face bullets and fire hoses and vicious dogs and baseball bats?
Would you be willing to lose your livelihood, your family, your friendships, or your very life?
Fortunately for you, you’re not being asked to do any of those things right now.
They have already been done for you.
Those costly payments were made on your behalf decades ago by people you’ve never met and whose names you’ll never know.
Your forebears endured these bruises and scars and this unthinkable suffering—all so that you could live with the invaluable gift of the voice that you have now and take for granted.
No, you aren’t being ask to bleed or to kill or to die in order to honor them and to steward the nation entrusted to you—you’re just being asked to give a damn and to vote.
You’re being asked to click on a website and register without even moving from the spot you’re sitting.
You’re being asked to order an online ballot that will come directly to your home.
You’re being asked to take a literal minute or so to fill it out in comfort and anonymity and either place it in your mailbox, or drop it off on your way to the grocery store or the gas station.
These efforts might take an hour, at the very most. You likely could have done them in the time it will take you to read this piece.
Or, if you prefer to show up in person, you can vote early to avoid long election day lines, making your voice heard usually in a matter of minutes.
And failing all of these less-invasive options, you could be required to make a massive sacrifice on November 8th:
You may be asked to give up 7 or 8 hours out of the 168 you’ll get that week; out of the 8,760 hours you get this year—and stand somewhere, step into a voting booth, and with a flip of your finger, bend the moral arc of the Universe toward justice.
Then, you’ll get to return to your life already in progress, to enjoy the other 16 or 17 hours of that day.
The only question left, friend and fellow citizens of this beautiful but presently assailed nation: is that too much to ask of you?
Is one day, too great a hardship to endure in order to defend your homeland and its people, the Constitution undergirding them, the planet sustaining them?
Are there more pressing issues you need to tend to that day that outweigh what hangs in the balance; greater than defending the worth and dignity of the disparate human beings around you, than stewarding liberty and justice?
I’ve heard you lament how horrible this nation has become in the past few years.
I’ve watched you grieve deeply over the cruelty of our politicians and their sustained assaults on our human and civil rights.
I’ve recorded your sustained anger at the prolific disregard for humanity trending every morning.
I’ve listened to you speak eloquently about how far we’ve fallen as a nation, how wrong everything feels, how broken our systems are.
I just want to know what you’re going to do about it.
I want to know if you’ll do the one thing that complaining and protesting and marching and tweeting and arguing can’t.
I want to know you’re going to invest one day to save America:
- One day to stand for the right to choose.
- One day to condemn violent Christian nationalism.
- One day to secure free and fair elections.
- One day to uphold democracy.
- One day to welcome exhausted refugees.
- One day to denounce exclusionary, supremacist religion.
- One day to defend transgender teenagers from the bullies.
- One day to call out anti-Semitism, Isamophobia, and homophobia.
- One day to stand with the embattled environment.
- One day to repudiate police brutality.
- One day to provide a sick child healthcare.
- One day to reject gun violence.
- One day to affirm Science.
- One day to displace dictators.
One day (or, more likely an hour or so) to say thank you to the generations before you who suffered and sacrificed and fought and lost and bled and died—so that you could have the voice you now have and are still undecided about using.
Is a bit of your time worth what it cost them?
Are your children?
Is the planet?
Between now and November 8th, you’ll have responded clearly and explicitly—not on social media and not in coffee shops and not in think pieces, but at the polls.
And on November 9th, we will all wake up in the nation we’ve chosen together.
We can save America in a single day.
John Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. A 25-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and outside faith communities. When not actively working for a more compassionate planet, John enjoys spending time with his family, exercising, cooking, and having time in nature. He is the author of A Bigger Table, Hope and Other Superpowers, Low, and Stuff That Needs to Be Said.