Monday, November 07, 2005

The Effect of James Cardin

I wasn't going to vote tomorrow. Why? The main reason was to avoid jury duty. I was summoned for jury duty a few months ago, much to my extreme displeasure. I wrote a dramatic letter to the jury commission explaining why my participation was out of the question. It actually worked- I think they became suspicious of my mental state.

Then there was my dear friend Wini, who succumbed to breast cancer last year. Wini was a Jehovah's Witness, although she never imposed any of that stuff on me. When I made the decision to become an unwed single mother, Wini was the least judgmental of anyone I knew. It took me a long time to realize that nonjudgment was a key aspect of her religion. Because of her refusal to judge, Wini did not vote.

Wini's nonjudgment, coupled with disdain for jury duty (it's registered voters who make up the jury pool) inspired me to rant and rave for months about how I'd never vote again. Heaven knows the last presidential election didn't go my way, after all. And as Wini's widow says, the last person on earth we'd really want to elect would be a politician!

But guess what? I'm voting tomorrow. Why? Because of James Cardin.

James Cardin was my 10th grade history teacher. He was a rotund, red-faced, white haired Irish-looking kind of guy. He was one of those people who did amazing things prior to teaching later in life. He'd been an ace fighter pilot and a Jesuit priest. He was a zealot. He spoke with emphasis, with enthusiasm, often pounding his fists on his desk in the style of a football coach. To protect his ailing heart, he popped glycerin pills during heated descriptions of bygone battles.

During this very week of my 10th grade year, James Cardin had us debating the election issues. The man knew how to teach. He knew that those 10th grade debates would leave an indelible impression for later, when our childcare schedules seemed somehow more important than jury duty resulting from voter registration. He bellowed at us, fists flying, that voting was A PRIVILEGE, DAMMIT!

Even with all my ranting, I had not been at ease with my defiance. I was lucky enough to have been a student of James Cardin. The uncommon sincerity of his lessons rendered them permanent, and his long ago proclamation rang in my ears today.

See you at the polls.


garnet david said...

Thanks for reminding me of the privelage of choosing who gets power. I'd rather try and fail to enact change than sit by and let someone else do it their way.

ME Strauss said...

You inspire me. I sit and think of more to say, but really that says it.

Ananke said...

Your teacher had the right idea. Voting is a privilege that too many Americans ignore. For years, I was one of them. I'm glad you're going to vote. Better to have your say (even if you don't get your way) than to say nothing at all. :-D

easywriter said...

I second ME, this was an inspirational piece. A strong voice for the man who taught and for the precious privelage of the right to vote.

Betty said...

Garnet- Yes, the result of apathy is nil, I think. We have to keep trying.

Liz- I am truly honored.

Ananke- You know, I felt good after voting today and honoring the memory of a great history teacher who loved democracy.

easywriter- Thank you. I am amazed to discover how many people share the beliefs of my zealous teacher. It was only after I had written the post that I realized what a great man James Cardin was and how he deserved to be recognized. I feel like sculpting a statue of him to erect in my front yard.

Kelley Bell said...

Way to go Girl.
Voting is hard, but we must remember the past, and honor those who paved the way.

When I go to the polls, I walk in the shadow of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and I do so with pride.

Thinking of it that way makes it easier to read the results the next morning.

Betty said...

Kelley Bell- History can be darned inspiring. Thanks for your comment.