|One Cuts, One Chooses|
|Written by Stuart Sheldon, BT Contributor|
Democracy thieves need a lesson in fairness
My two young boys stood on tiptoes, eyeballing the chocolate-chip banana bread on the butcher-block. The five-year-old raised the knife and, eyes narrowed like a surgeon, took his time finding the exact center.
You can bet his older brother studied the two pieces thoroughly before selecting. “One cuts and one chooses. Can’t be any more fair than that,” I said as they chomped their treats. With an absolutely equal say in the outcome, neither could complain that the system was rigged or in any way controversial. Beautiful democracy!
Most issues in our household are distilled down to the question of what’s fair. In theory, the same applies to our great nation. Each person gets a vote, and the most votes wins. Everyone’s desire is equalized. One cuts. One chooses. Not complicated. But these are abnormal times. Currently a huge number are going to great lengths to make voting far more difficult for some.
These democracy thieves wish to cut and choose. Instead of making voting as easy as possible for all, they apply various tricks -- fewer polling places, shortened early voting, onerous ID requirements -- to keep others from being counted and having their reasonable say. Not fair!
I love America deeply. I feel endless gratitude that my children experience life through our bountiful prism. But America is sick, and getting sicker. A cancer of false narratives ravages our system. We’re a gullible nation, willing to believe what we hear when it comes from the mouths of so-called leaders. Roughly 30 percent of Americans still believe Saddam Hussein attacked the Twin Towers. Why? Because those in power said it over and over and over.
Voter fraud is another such untruth. The fact is this: It does not exist. Impressively, only 31 credible incidents of voter fraud have been documented out of one billion ballots cast. And still Republican legislators across America are ramming through laws that disenfranchise...you guessed it: Democrats. Not fair!
It’s happening in our schools, too. Board of education censors in numerous states continue to keep seminal literature from our kids, stunting the expansion of young minds to innovate, grow, and learn. Even Harry Potter has been repeatedly banned for “glorifying witchcraft.” No joke.
Humanity’s greatest calamities -- slavery, genocide, endless war -- stem from false narratives swallowed as gospel by the masses. Without the medicine of truth and facts, a society rots from within. Actual lives are lessened or destroyed. Just last week, after yet another brutal shooting, my youngest asked me: “Is someone going to come into our house and murder me?”
That’s the collateral damage of the perverted false narrative claiming that an abstract “right” supersedes all need for common-sense checks and balances. Two years after Sandy Hook and no improvement in federal gun-sense law? It’s not just maniacal, it’s immoral.
Flabbergasted, frustrated, and frightened, I’m stepping up as an artist and humble citizen. For the disenfranchised, for my children, and for my ancestors who came here, worked fair and square and made a decent life for me. And for my wonderful country, because a home does not thrive when liars are allowed to continually lie without consequence.
My weapons are artworks. The battlefield is my upcoming exhibition, “I’m With the Banned,” wherein I aim to change hearts and minds, and drive daggers into the hearts of shameless, lying, mean-spirited people who feel that objectivity is something they get to modulate. I won’t stand silent as racism mutates from the tool of whisper campaigns into the playbook of an actual political campaign.
We each must scream into the faces of the bad guys. And by scream, I mean vote! Every eligible person must use the power of the ballot. As Dr. King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Well, it currently needs a bit of bending back toward rightness. I’m putting my shoulder to that effort, and I hope you’ll join me.
Democracy is indeed a beautiful thing. But as long as governors and state legislators in more than a dozen states, including Florida, fight to suppress the hard-earned right of millions to vote, your great nation, Reagan’s “shining city on a hill,” ceases to be a democracy.
American democracy is the gold standard in representative government. For the most part, we get it right. However, right now we’re heading toward a slippery slope. You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem.
“I’m With the Banned” opens October 27 at Macaya Gallery in Wynwood, 145 NW 36th St., 786-577-0322. The exhibition runs through Art Basel.
Stuart Sheldon is an artist, author, and Miami native. Follow his blog at stuartsheldon.com and Instagram@stuart_sheldon.
Volume 15, Issue 1, March 2017
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