November 8, 2022, El Mirage- The quiet, unassuming woman took her place in line, outside the polling station, in this thriving western suburb of Phoenix. One thing distinguished her from the rest of the voters: She sported a sweatshirt, with a logo that several people have found threatening. The lady was not intimidating; she just wanted to cast a ballot-and so it transpired.
I was here as a Poll Chaplain, from 3 p.m. until closing. My role, as I explained to the site manager, was simply to sit outside-just past the 75-foot barrier prescribed by law, and be there to provide reassurance to anyone who might be upset or anxious about the atmosphere at the site. I reassured several voters, a few of whom were first-timers, and mostly presented a calm demeanour to the nearly 200 voters who passed along in line, over that four-hour period.
The participation of voters was heartwarming, and the decorum exhibited by all in the lines was even more so. No one saw any point in being less than gracious to those around them. For that, I have never been prouder to be a citizen of this country. There are those who have commented that the concept of the United States is outmoded, and that conservative areas should be split from progressive areas. Such a ridiculous proposition ignores the fact that there are conservatives and progressives in every state, community and, often, within families. Showing respect and regard for another human being should not take a whole lot of energy-yet the wire-pullers have convinced far to many that it is impossible. The fact remains that the majority of people in my life, regardless of ideology, are loving individuals, who mainly want to be heard and understood. If that sounds like the former president talking, after the Charlottesville incident of 2017, so be it-but I will never excuse acts of violence committed by anyone in my ever-widening circle. It does the perpetrator’s soul no good, whatsoever, to not be called to account.
The day itself was full, beginning with a drive from Prescott to the small city of Avondale, about ten miles west of Phoenix and equally south of El Mirage. There, I paid a visit to some old friends’ coffee shop and bakery-enjoying a light lunch. Coldwater Coffee House and Bakery is also a community gathering place. The Martinez de Aragon family is committed to strengthening the civic pride that their neighbours feel in Avondale, and in its subcommunities. After lunch, I got my bearings, and did a week’s worth of laundry at a shop near the school, in El Mirage, where Penny and I both worked for several years, in the 2000s.
The chance to serve as Poll Chaplain was the icing on the cake of a very fine day. Even the forecast rain and wind held off, though we are told it will definitely take place tomorrow.