To whom much is given, much will be required, so the Bible verse goes. “Service is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth” is credited to Muhammad Ali. The phrase “Tikkun Olam” or “repair of the world” is understood by the Jewish community to refer to the responsibility to make the world more just and peaceful through acts of charity, kindness and political action. While each concept is a bit different, they all call upon individuals and communities to do more in service to others to make our world a better place.
Each year, Pride brings us together to celebrate our accomplishments, to provide a balm to our souls when facing setbacks and to inspire us to look to the future together. We’ve accomplished amazing transformations together in the last 35 years or so. So much so that most of us can expect to thrive in ways that members of our community wouldn’t have believed just a generation ago. That would trigger, in my mind, the first phrase, as we have been given much in our lives — so much so that it’s time to look at what we do with the gifts we’ve been given and ensure that we are using the freedom to live our best lives and lift others still in struggle. Voting is one of the responsibilities we are all asked to fulfill that can have a huge impact on our communities, our country, and our world.
It takes so little to perform service to others. Sometimes it’s just a spontaneous act — helping someone open a door or quietly paying for the groceries of someone in need. Sometimes it’s organizing a bigger effort like a community cleanup or volunteering to work at the polls on Election Day. The beauty of this is that we are free to choose the service that gives us joy while helping others find joy too. The admonition to us is that the service should be as regular as paying rent. Developing a service-oriented mindset is not hard — it’s more like exercising a muscle. The more you do it, the easier and more rewarding it becomes.
Repairing the world seems daunting, but we are certainly at a place where justice and peace are needed. Doing individual and group acts of kindness and charity can create ripples that extend far beyond where we stand today. Political action is an instrument we play well. Because our community is made of many diverse communities, our capacity for impactful political action is huge. Working collaboratively with others to mobilize people to vote for the change we want to see in this world is a timely opportunity.
While we still have much work to do to protect our hard-fought gains and to ensure everyone in our community has what they need to succeed, we have the capacity to look beyond ourselves and consider what we can do to help others achieve their goals.
I’d be remiss, as Chair of the Fulton County Board of Elections, if I didn’t make a very explicit request that every single member of our community commit to voting in this (and every) election. It’s the easiest service to perform that truly can help heal the world. Voting doesn’t cost money; you don’t have to go to a meeting or do anything “extra” to participate. All you need to do is register and show up to cast your vote. The last day to register to vote in this election is October 11 (coincidentally falling on National Coming Out Day!).
Please make a plan to register and vote by going to mvp.sos.ga.gov/s to review your voting status, precinct location, advance voting locations and hours, and even to register to vote if you’ve not done so already.
The benefit of service falls as much to the one serving as to the person or people receiving the help. Consider making Pride season the time that we come together to see how we can use our collective and individual efforts to heal the world. We all know it needs it!