Last night I watched a film titled “On Her Shoulders” and today I learned it is “National Voter Registration Day” in the United States. Your average person might not be able to make a connection between the two but I easily can.
First, about “On Her Shoulders“: the movie follows a young Yazidi woman name Nadia Murad Basee Taha who who was captured and forced into sexual slavery when ISIS over-ran the Yazidi area of Iraq in 2014. She eventually escaped, was smuggled out of Iraq. Following a public briefing of the United nations Security Council on human trafficking Nadia became the unofficial (?) spokesperson for her people. This film follows her as she travels the world for the cause of her people. She had met people from all walks of life with, clearly, the most emotional meetings being those while her own exiled people.
This film comes at an opportune time because the cause is largely forgotten now that Iraq has been freed from ISIS clutches. That an entire, albeit small, group of people remains in danger of extermination is forgotten. I was left wondering what I could possibly do and, at the time, not coming up with answers.
Here is the connection to the American National Voter Registration Day today. Many nations in the world today are turned or turning towards to right. Fear about losing something, purity of some kind or another I suppose, seems to cause many to yearn for the return to a so-called better and simpler time. Politicians and non-official state actors are very adept at both reading and exploiting this sentiment. With this turn to the right huge swaths of groups are being demonized and marginalized. So they peel off small segments of society one at a time. Once you feel little to no connection to another it is easier to ignore them and easier to not fight for them. This is happening everywhere, all around us.
How do we, the common people combat this? We combat this by registering to vote, where voting is still possible. We do this by deciding what is important to us and being involved in the political process. We don’t have to run for office but we can be informed about the political candidates. We can read up up on them beyond simply reading a campaign poster or some glossy literature. And we can decide who best represents us regardless of their party affiliation and how we’ve voted in the past. When the time comes we can cast our vote for the person we feel most deserving of it. Make your candidates work for your vote.
Why does this matter? Many don’t really care about issues that appear to have no impact until it’s too late. What happens if your child comes out as LBGTQ but the protections are no longer there? What happens if your daughter is abused because women are no longer seen as being equal to men?
To the people who think it doesn’t matter, regardless of your political affiliation, or whether you are a Supreme Court nominee, or a media personality: Can you really look your mother, wife and daughters in the eye and say none of this matters? Can you honestly say this matters only to your loved ones and no others? Have you ever looked in the mirror and said the things you say in public to your reflection? Do you really believe any of this? Or are you either opportunistic or too frightened to fight the orthodoxy?