I meant to vote last week. Then I promised myself I'd go Monday. Then Tuesday. And finally today, I made it to my designated polling location and got it done. It took all of five minutes.

Honestly? I didn't feel like voting today. It's not that I don't want to vote, nor do I think it's unimportant to do so. At the same time, I had a pile of work to do and errands to run and frankly it was cold and wet outside. But I made myself go.

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Confession: I used to believe it didn't really matter whether or not I voted. I mean, I was thankful for the right to vote. I knew it was an important part of democracy to do so. At least in some abstract way.

"Sure, it's a privilege to be able to vote. But how much does my one little vote matter anyway?" This is the main thought I had to justify not taking a few minutes or hours to go and do my "civic duty." Privilege. There's a key word.

There'd never been a time in my life when I didn't know I had the right to vote. Well, at least once I reached the age of eighteen that is. I never had to fight for the right to make my voice heard, at least not in this way. It was something bestowed upon me as a citizen of this country.

It wasn't until I was a junior in college that I finally understood how easily we take this right, this privilege, for granted. To remember that people died so that, among other freedoms, we'd have this right. And if you're a man who doesn't own property, a woman, or of an ethnicity other than Caucasian, that right wouldn't be yours for years to come. In the case of women, almost two hundred years.

Some of the very same people I hear complaining about the state of our government or the hard realities of their lives are among those who tell me proudly that they don't vote. I can't and won't judge them because I was just like them.

But please hear me: It matters. 

What if you didn't have this right? Imagine being in a bronze age culture where you are considered little more than livestock. Or imagine being a peasant in a medieval European country, where the idea of you having some say over your destiny isn't even a thought entertained by those who have authority over your life, your work, and your family for generations to come. No one asking for or caring about your opinion.

In fact, for you to voice your dissent could be cause for arrest and even execution. In many cases, even your family would pay the price for your "crime."

We've come a long way since then. But very, very slowly. Over the centuries and in many cultures, people fought and argued and even died to pave the way for your voice to matter. That's what freedom is all about.

Please don't let their struggles be in vain.

We all contribute to this symphony here in the land of the free and home of the brave. Granted, each solitary note does not a symphony make. But each one, when contributing to the whole, creates a tapestry of sound that can move a stadium of people to tears.

Play your part. Pick up your instrument. Contribute what you can. And be a part of changing your life, your community, your state, your country--the world.

We need you. Vote.

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