Since I'll be out of town on election day, I voted early.
While I stood there in the voting booth pondering the candidates, an image kept flashing through my thoughts. It's actually been in my mind for many weeks now, and now I know why.
The image is of my daughter and her two children: her young son and a younger daughter.
I was at their home about a month ago helping her bottle peaches from trees she'd grown in her backyard. It was the end of a busy, demanding day. The two kids were in their pajamas, had brushed their teeth, listened to their bedtime stories, and were at the evening's finale: bedtime prayers.
The young boy came to the kitchen where I was still bottling and invited me to join them. I did, kneeling across their momma's bed from the three of them.
Then I did something I used to scold my children for -- I kept my eyes open the whole time. I couldn't help it. Before me was their mom, my daughter, kneeling between her two little ones. The strain of the day's efforts showed on her tired face. Strands of hair that had escaped from her pony tail lightly encircled her face, and she looked like a frazzled Madonna as she wrapped an arm around each of her children.
To her left, her little daughter strained on tip toes to reach the bed with her folded arms. To her right, her young son tucked his head into his arms. They squinched their eyes tightly shut and, in turn, innocently and faithfully talked to God about their day, about the things they were thankful for, and about the things they hoped for.
They both hoped for and asked for the same blessing: "Please help me be good and safe."
Over the course of the next several weeks, I kept thinking about that image and those words whenever I listened to the ongoing election rhetoric, particularly this intense presidential race. It occurred to me that what I heard those two little children ask heaven for is what we all want. We want someone in charge who will help us be "good and safe".
But what does that mean? What does it look like?
Trying to define "good and safe" on a national level gets bogged down fast in complicated words and complex phrases. It's hard to explain it to ourselves, much less to anyone else, when we think that large. But when we go back to the root, back to the beginning, back to a child's prayer, then we have words.
We want a leader who will keep us and our little ones "safe" not only from foreign attacks, but also from the paralysis of internal strife.
We want a leader who will keep their financial futures "safe," who won't enslave them with debt they never earned, or debt that grows faster than they do.
We want a leader that still believes this country's people are better off with less, not more government in their lives, someone who will promote and sustain the "good" in people by staying out of their way.
We want a leader who esteems the welfare of others greater than his own.
We want a leader who honors not only the written laws of the land, but also the unwritten laws of human decency, rational fairness, and common sense.
We want a leader who believes in this country and has the ability to help others believe in it too.
We want a leader who is honest.
We want a leader who recognizes that families are the backbone of any nation that has ever been great -- including this one -- and will do anything and everything he can to preserve them.
In short, we want to know that long after we're gone, our children and their children and their children's children will still be able to raise their families in a country that is confident, financially stable, self-reliant, helpful to those in need, and free in every good sense of the word.
In simpler words, we cast our vote so they can be "good and safe."
You can contact D. Louise Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.