What I Learned at the Town Meeting

Last Saturday, I went to our Searsport town meeting. It was interesting, exciting, and emotional for me. Even though our town hall is quite large, they held it in the high school gymnasium because they expected quite a turn-out this year. . . and they were right.

(On a side note, I scolded myself for not bringing a notebook. What an opportunity to write some character sketches! With about 500 people gathered in one place, a writer sees quite a range of mannerisms and descriptions. I tried to take mental notes to retrieve later.)

A town meeting is democracy in action. Each registered voter is marked with a stamp, and given a voting bundle: a copy of the agenda, a bright voting card, and several colored ballots. A moderator called the meeting to order (and kept it flowing in a controlled manner). As different articles were read to approve the budget and adopt policies, any citizen of the town was given the opportunity to ask questions or comment. Sometimes we voted by lifting our voting cards, or we were asked to mark a ballot and put it into a monitored ballot box - showing our mark as a registered voter.

As the day progressed, the tension and excitement rose over the final proposal - a new business to be built in our town. When it arrived on the agenda, a debate was called for. Opposing sides of the issue were given 10 minutes. Each speaker could only speak a maximum of 2 minutes. Any citizen could let his voice be heard if he chose to stand up to the microphone.

The whole scene overwhelmed me. This is MY country where we have the freedom to speak. No, we don't always agree, but we can voice our opinion. We can vote for what we believe in.

When one elderly gentleman hobbled with his cane to the microphone, the whole room respectfully waited (and stopped the clock for him to reach the microphone). He slowly talked of what the town was like when he arrived as a young man, how it grew and survived many changes. He reminded us that our selectmen and committees (which we chose) care for our welfare and that we should trust their judgment. He quoted, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." The moderator had asked us not to clap for the speakers, but when this man finished, the room erupted into an applause in their love for this long time resident and friend.

The events of the day replayed in my mind. I thought of the different words and actions which symbolized our culture, the attitudes of our society and mankind in general. It also made me think of my own spiritual life.

Why do I oppose the changes my Lord has for me?

"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord,
so walk ye in Him."
(Colossians 2:6 KJV)

Just as I have been saved from the penalty of sin by faith in God, I should walk in that faith. He has cared for me over the years. He continues to look out for my welfare. He patiently lets me speak, but wants me to submit willingly without fighting and debates. Why should I fear the changes He has planned for the growth of my life?

1 comment:

Joanne Sher said...

Sounds like a wonderful and moving experience. Thanks for sharing!


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