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Vote: It’s up all of us to unify our country

Martin Luther King Jr., once said “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

On Tuesday, Americans will cast their votes in the mid-term elections, and in Alabama, there are statewide elections and in Escambia County, there is a heated sheriff’s race, a race in county commission district 3 and a race for Escambia County Board of Education, District 7.

Voting is a basic right, but it’s one that has come at high costs for many in this country, and it’s one that we should never take lightly.

People have marched, fought, died, been beaten, and more for the right to vote.

Young voters are needed just as much as the older crowd.

There are key issues in every election, and our country is in a time of great divide. These elections stand to be a pivotal point in our country’s history.

Statistics show that millennials represented nearly 50 percent of the voting population two years ago.

The voting population is almost equal parts – Millennials and Baby Boomers.

Unfortunately, while Millennials make up a large part, they are far less likely to vote than their older counterparts. Boomers will show up to vote.

There’s an argument among young voters that they don’t think their vote counts, but it’s simply not true.

Millennials were hit hard by the recession – college debt and even the lack of jobs after college, were crippling to a large portion of younger voters.

While the economy is improving, unemployment rates are declining, policy change and reform in areas that affect college students or post-college students is as crucial as it was a decade ago.

Currently young voters are considered the most diverse group of voters.

When you look at younger voters, the demographics are truly the smorgasbord of people.

In saying that, younger voters have the ability to bridge the gap that clearly exists between the generations.

With the diversity, the younger generation has the ability help heal the nation.

This generation is touted as being more accepting. With that, comes the need to have valid discussions with friends across the aisle politically. How can we work together to best suit the needs of all involved? Have we listened to our neighbor to know why he or she believes a certain way?

Civilized debates, talking out issues and listening to the other side are crucial to our country’s future.

Enough is enough when it comes to hate mongering, division, media bashing and anger because people don’t believe the same as you.

We must rise above hate and violence. We must rise against racism. We are a country full of different races, genders and ideologies.

We must learn to love our country again and we must remember we can love our neighbors even when we disagree with them politically, socially, religiously, etc.

Robert Kennedy once said, “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country.”

Ben Carson also said, “I hope we, the American people, can come to the understanding that we are not each other’s enemies. The enemies are those who are stoking the flames of division,  trying to divide us into every category.”

We must expect more from ourselves and from the people we elect to represent us.

Still, if we don’t get out on Tuesday and make informed votes, nothing will change.

The country will continue to unravel, people will continue to live in hate, and nothing will change.

President John F. Kennedy said, “my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

On Tuesday, what we can all do for our country is to go make an informed vote and begin doing our part to unify our country.

Bridging the gaps across the aisles, doing a lot more listening, and a lot less name calling and hate stirring, and instead working for the greater good.

Sure, we won’t all agree on every issue, but if we stand in the aisles and extend our hands to one another and offer compromises, we stand a better chance of overcoming. We stand a better chance at not destroying ourselves from the inside out.

As President Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself will not stand.”

What are you doing to help alleviate the division? Our future depends on it.