This commentary has been modified from November 9, 2010
The personal power that comes from principle-centered living is the power of a self-aware, knowledgeable, proactive individual, unrestricted by the attitudes, behaviors, and actions of others or by many of the circumstances and environmental influences that limit other people. ~ Stephen R. Covey
When I think of highly effective people, not by chance do I think of motivational sensation Stephen R. Covey who published his first self-improvement phenomenon, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People first in 1989 then again in 2004, selling more than 12 million copies in 33 languages and 75 countries throughout the world.
When I first read this powerhouse, world acclaimed, #1 bestselling non-fiction blockbuster in 2003, it served me in the greatest capacity; a commanding reminder that we make our habits then our habits make us. The first habit represented in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is the habit of being Proactive. Its’ synopsis is to take initiative in life by realizing your decisions (and how they align with life’s principles) are the primary determining factor for effectiveness in your life; taking responsibility for your choices and the subsequent consequences that follow.
Proactive means preparing for or controlling an expected situation. In essence, we can choose to be proactive or reactive. Proactive people use their resourcefulness and initiative to find solutions rather than just reporting problems and waiting for others to solve them.
Stephen Covey believes, “Change starts from within, and highly effective people make the decision to improve their lives through the things they can influence rather than by simply reacting to external forces.”
The seven principles presented in this book epitomize the course of our everyday lives. Covey points out that they are “self-evident” and found in all the major world religions. Be we religious or not, democrat, republican, independent, green, libertarian or otherwise – the habit of being proactive becomes evident as it regards our exercising the right to VOTE. Historically, obtaining the right to vote for many has been a complex and elongated journey. By the mid 1850’s most economic barriers to voting had disappeared, however, by the Constitution not [then] addressing the suffrage issues more broadly, it fostered a long running battle over voting rights. Well into the twentieth century, the struggle prolonged and consequently formed a stronger concentration for the civil rights and women’s rights movements.
Though the exercise to vote has expanded from early voting in America in April 1607 to our present day of November 2012, the battle for bureaucracy and the struggle for human freedom and civil rights continue to present challenging opportunities in many of our communities and abroad. Today, many of our inner city communities are shifting and separating, lacking the presence of fathers, brothers, and sons on the home front. As of this year, approximately 6 million Americans have lost their electoral right to vote. This includes imprisoned felons, ex-felons, felons on parole, and felons disenfranchised; an unfortunate circumstance because it encompasses 2.5 percent of the population.
Every human has four endowments: self-awareness, conscience, independent will, and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom…the power to choose, to respond, to change. ~ Stephen Covey
No movement has illustrated more change than the milestones of Black America by way of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. The primary objectives of this social movement in the United States was to outlaw racial discrimination against black Americans, reform economic and political self-sufficiency, and restore voting rights. From the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations, facilities, and schools and creating an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which suspended the use of literacy tests and voter disqualification devices, much has been reinforced and revolutionized. [Source: Black Americans in Congress].
In addition, in 1776, Abigail Adams asked the Continental Congress to support women’s rights. In 1787, The U.S. Constitution was adopted. In 1878, the Women’s Suffrage Amendment was introduced to Congress but took a lengthy 42 years of courageous labor to irrevocably ratify in 1920. In 1948, the denial to the right to vote for Native-Americans was overturned by state laws. And by 1966, more than 250,000 new African-American voters in the South were registered to vote. The movements of the past have unquestionably liberated more freethinkers of the present. Today, more young people are inspired to ACT.
Historically, federal elections in the United States have taken place on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. This date was established by a law of 1845 for presidential elections; in 1875 for the House of Representatives and in 1914 for the Senate. Tuesday was the earliest and most practical day of the week for polling to occur in the nineteenth century because citizens would need time to travel for an entire day in order to cast their vote and did not wish to leave on Sunday, a day of worship for the great majority of them.
Why do we vote?
We exercise our right to vote in any type of election, from local elections to Presidential primaries because we understand the importance of proactive presence. We vote for CHANGE. We vote to provide important ways to voice our opinions regarding elected leaders and overall policies that directly affect us and our families. We vote to decide our future by electing an individual who might reflect our views, concerns, and short and long-term needs. We vote to bring positive civic support, overall health, and social improvement to our neighborhoods and communities at-large. We vote because it is our most cherished Constitutional Right that many of our ancestors fought for, marched for, and died for. We vote regardless of ethnicity, nationality, or creed, because it is important to our survival as a nation.
I was not a part of the Freedom Movement of the 1960’s but somehow, I feel as though my enthusiasm was there. As a young woman at the callow age of 18, I was not aware of the widespread challenges that my ancestors faced nor did I recognize my critical responsibility in having the right to vote. I knew that I had a voice – an articulate and consequential one – but during that period of my life I didn’t feel as though my vote would make a difference, nor did I realize the power and importance of my OWN presence.
By the age of 21, my presence became my power and my voice became my power of speech. I discovered the necessity to take on a more applied approach to politics. S0 I did. My first experience was showing up in November of 1992 for the 42nd Presidential Election of the United States. No question, that experience empowered me and thereafter changed every notion I ever imagined about exercising my rights to anything.
I am personally convinced that one person can be a change catalyst, a “transformer” in any situation, any organization. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a transforming leader.
~ Stephen Covey
Today, our new generations of young people are making strides, overcoming barriers and taking giant leaps of faith. But many still have yet to discover their identity, their purpose, their voice. Now as a parent and citizen, it saddens my heart to see young folks not taking advantage of the right to receive a free education anywhere in the country or exercising the right to have an opinion – and vote in the federal and midterm elections. The democracy of our future greatly depends upon our youth. They are the vehicles that will implement the equality we hope for…but will no longer be able to express.
You are HERE. Be proactive. Take a stand. Use your voice. Share your story. Be an influence. Have a purpose regardless of your flight. Personal effectiveness is not unattainable. Being effective requires showing up. In the final analysis, we should vote because we CAN. Change can happen, one city – one community – one individual at a time.
Don’t ever let anybody tell you that your efforts don’t matter or that your voice doesn’t count. Don’t ever believe that you can’t make a difference. You have.” ~ President Barack Obama
Love and Light for your Tuesday and your progressive consciousness. VOTE November 6, 2012
Reference commentary of October 23, 2012: Four Words: How-Do-We-Heal?