This blog post is not intended to impose any political message or pressure anyone to vote for any specific candidate. This is only a reminder that we have something precious that so many in the world do not: the right to vote.
Today, millions of Americans will go to the polls. Whether your candidate wins or loses, the date of the presidential election always offers a special opportunity to engage in the national conversation, creating a temporary community of people who are actively reflecting on what it means to be patriotic, to have obligations to our fellow citizens, and to lay the framework a better future.
Following Post-Hurricane Sandy, this election has particular poignancy for me. I might have been without electricity for a few days, but I realize that is small potatoes in comparison to those whose lives were devastated. Thousands have lost more than electricity, gas, pay, hot water, cellular and internet service. From the Caribbean to the Eastern Seaboard, homes and lives have been taken away. In the wake of such devastation, we have also seen an outpouring of strength, goodwill, charity, compassion and neighborliness that is the hallmark of our national character.
There is still much to do. As you contemplate your vote today, please also give a thought to helping move Post-Sandy relief efforts forward. The Northeast is expecting another storm in the coming days, bringing even more stress to communities that are already fragile from the hurricane. These people need food, warm clothing, blankets, water, gas, and shelter.
If you are in the New York Metro Area, you can volunteer your time. Whatever you might think of the Occupy Wall Street movement, this is the moment to set aside any political views and simply recognize that Occupy has one of the most organized and efficient volunteer mobilization efforts in the city. For more information about Occupy Sandy, click here. For other volunteer opportunities, click here.
However, what relief organizations need most — more than canned goods and more than clothing — is money. You can easily contribute $10 per message to the Red Cross’s efforts by texting REDCROSS to 9099. You can also donate $10 per text to the Salvation Army’s efforts by texting STORM to 80888. You can also donate online to the Mayor’s Fund, which distributes 100% of all funds collected to a wide range of relief organizations.
The Red Cross is also calling for blood donations as blood banks are low. More information is available on their site.
Let’s not forget our furry friends in need. Thousands of pets are displaced and are in need rescue, critical care, and support. The Humane Society of the United States is currently accepting donations via their website here.
As I previously noted, I don’t consider this blog to be the appropriate forum to air my political views. But for the curious, I offer a gastronomic clue to my political leanings below.