It's election day in the USA but here in Panama, it's raining so when the phone rings, I'm nestled snugly into my sofa. It's my brother Nicholas in California, calling to make sure we sent in our absentee ballots on time.
Ummm . Okay. It seems we kind of screwed that one up this year.
Without actually scolding, my responsible brother gently and firmly lets me know we have committed the unforgivable by giving away our precious votes to the Tea Party. But, practically in the same breath, all is not lost. He brightly explains (as he hits ENTER on his keyboard ) there is still time for me to single-handedly redeem my family from spending eternity in Hades by picking up the phone to make some "Get Out and Vote" calls using, of course, the link that now and already awaits me via his email.
My brother is, of course, is correct. Although I'm an Independent, left on some issues, surprisingly right on others, I am still registered as a Democrat, something I did in order to vote in the primaries -- which of course never counted since I was voting in Florida, where your votes magically disappear like socks in the dryer. I am, after all, a Ballard.
And Ballards vote. Ballards come from a long line of active Democrats -- that's "active" with a capital "A." My internalized parental and grand-parental values were rapidly surfacing, taking on the form of painful contrition. And guilt will kill you.
Also, I'm pretty sure I felt the earth moving under my house as my ancestors began to squirm in their graves.
So, while I definitely wanted to remain in my now form fitting spot on the couch, that wasn't going to happen; the guilt was now gnawing away at my lazy, easy day.
But was it the guilt alone that propelled me out of my comfort zone? Loyalty to my brother and our family ideals? Maybe it was my good old higher power calling me into action -- that faint voice of right and reason that I sometimes refer to as Uncle Jesus' Holy Spirit.
Or, perhaps, just maybe it was the voice of Oprah Winfrey herself!
Let's face it. Haven't most of us over the past 25 years been minding the messages of Oprah? Oprah leading us to meditate, eat /pray/love; dump the dieting; follow the mother ship (whatever that is); dive into the vortex (whatever that is); and oh yeah, above all, Vote!
Maybe it was Oprah herself calling to me all the way from Chicago. Chicago, city of my birth; home of Hull House and the great Jane Addams, alongside whom my grandparents worked and where they became directors after her death. Chicago...place of my parents' alma mater, the then matchless University of Chicago, and home of the progressive Hyde Park area, where my grandparents, and later Barack Obama himself resided, before he moved to the White House.
Whatever it was that pulled me into action, it worked.
I did the good deed.
I dialed. I persuaded. I left creative and cajoling messages, forgoing of course the provided internet Script.
And ... I began to feel better. I felt redeemed.
I had single-handedly brought the future of my children (and their children) away from the arms of hell and closer to heaven's embrace by my earnest campaigning efforts.
All this got me to thinking:
It's probably forgivable to disobey Jesus once in a while because, you know, Jesus is a pretty forgiving guy.
But it's not okay to go against Oprah.
Let's face it. If you cross Oprah, you probably go straight to hell.
Is Oprah the new Jesus?
I don't know.
As of this writing, the ballots haven't been counted.
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