Greetings to all my former students, who I remember with deep and abiding affection. I have mourned the loss of some of your classmates to accident, to drugs and suicide, and as both victims and perpetrators of violence.

I rejoice and am grateful whenever I meet others who have made families, become nurses, lawyers, restaurateurs, trades people, law enforcement officers, and so much more. Some have gone to war and I pray, have returned — life and hearts whole.

When I have asked people if they are registered or plan to vote, I have heard some say “I’m just not into politics, Miss.” I think they mean that they don’t pay attention to the talking heads on TV or possibly don’t understand the complex issues of our times. Politics is about who has power and how they use it.

Some of the complex issues we must face include knowing that our country started the Iraq war for profit, that we torture prisoners, that our so called “drug war” does not stop the disease of addiction and moreover makes addicts criminals. It decimates families and communities here and in Latin America. It fills our prisons. Is that use of power okay with you?

If anyone thought that racism in the United States had disappeared because President Obama was elected, they need only look at the way his opponents speak of him and the fallacy of birth certificate/non-American arguments. They need only look at the way the votes of people of color, poor people, and the elderly are being suppressed all over the United States right now. Is the continued institutionalization of racism okay with you?

It is not an exaggeration to say that our democracy is being destroyed, possibly irrevocably, by the role of corporate and special interest money allowed in politics and fostered now by the Right-leaning Supreme Court. Ordinary candidates who want to be public servants are being obliterated by tens of millions of dollars of negative ads attacking them.

Fox News is a leader of this corporate propaganda machine and I believe this endless onslaught of lies unknowingly causes people to vote against their own best interests. Yet still I trust that people can become  wise and good citizens by listening to their own hearts and recognizing hypocrisy when they see it.

It is hypocrisy to claim love of freedom when there is no tolerance for the personal freedoms of others. Right Wing Republicans are stripping away the most basic human right for women — that of protecting, caring, and controlling the choices for their own bodies.

It is hypocrisy to say that Occupy Wall Street’s protests were “divisive” or that Liberals are engaged in a “class war.” They factually highlighted the extreme economic disparity of Wall Street’s  phenomenal profits and the millions of people who have lost their jobs, their life savings, and their homes because of the treachery of Wall Street.

To label the 99 percent, our neighbors, and the working poor as “takers, not givers” because they must temporarily have assistance from our safety net or perish is shocking, heartless, and truly un-American.

It is a frightening hypocrisy of the highest order, to witness Homeland Security funded para-militarized police forces violate the civil rights of Occupy protesters to peaceful assembly.

Do you think that your vote doesn’t matter? Please think again.

If all the voters that brought President Obama to the White House had showed up for the mid-term election of 2010, our Congress would have been able to work for the people instead of being stopped by Right Wing legislators who were working against the President.

Perhaps the most important thing your vote can accomplish is to ensure that it is a Democratic President who makes the next Supreme Court justice nominations and a Democratic Congress that approves ethical and impartial professionals for those posts. They may have the final say about money in politics, violations of civil rights and voting rights, health care, environment, and labor and the rights of workers to unionize.

Ultimately, it is we who must gain the political power to “turn our swords into plowshares.” Turning away from your right to vote now ensures that you and your families will be living by other people’s choices, not your own. Please register and vote.

Satrupa Kagel always loves to hear from her former students (no matter what). She is registering voters until the deadline, Oct. 9 and is happy to provide links to documentaries and factual resources. satrupa@earthlink.net

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