This is how it is for democracy as well. If there is a range of voices missing it is an incomplete picture. We cannot, as a nation, afford for a range of voices to be missing.
Politics is an ongoing conversation and negotiation. If either of the extremes are missing you will not end up negotiating the middle ground. Instead you will negotiate to the right or left of the middle ground. If the voice in the middle is missing and the two extremes are negotiating it is less of a negotiation and more of a ping-pong match depending upon who is in power at the time.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So here is a picture of who represents Virginians at the highest levels right now.
So, what say you, Virginia, about the picture being drawn? It looks very middle-aged, white male to me. In Rwanda's equivalent of a House of Representatives the majority of representatives are women. Somehow I doubt it is because they offer amazing childcare.
Do they love their country more? Their children? Deep in my heart, I believe all mothers around the world share the same hopes and fears, dreams and desires. The context for some hopes and fears may be more violent or more oppressive, but what is written on our hearts is the same. We all want this world to be a better, safer, kinder, gentler place for our children and the generations to follow. We just want to be able to feed our kids good food, watch them grow strong, and enjoy our day-to-day lives. We want our children, boys and girls both, to have the opportunities to live the lives they choose for themselves.
Women need to think about the world we want and then compare that to the world we have. Are our hopes and dreams being reflected in recently passed and pending legislation? Are you represented well enough that you believe the status quo works for you and your family? At a local, state, and national level?
If not, you cannot wait for someone else to change your reality. Please consider taking a path less often taken - the path of active involvement in shaping our state and national politics. For some that path will mean raising awareness of issues they are concerned about (chemicals in foods, for example). This can be as simple as starting conversations, hosting a book club, hosting a movie night, or posting on a topic on Facebook.
For others it will mean lobbying. Finding the organization or becoming the organization that takes the educated perspective to the next level, one of advocacy. Or lobbying on behalf of your friends and family without an organization behind you because advocating for the best interest of citizens does not take a tax form!
For a few dedicated women it will mean serving friends, family, and neighbors by holding public office. Most women agree more women are needed in the direct negotiations and what better place to sit than holding a vote in the legislature?
But to force ourselves out of our comfort zones, we must first acknowledge the missing voices at the table. If the first step is admitting there is a problem, I for one am ready to admit that settling for men to represent me and my viewpoint is no longer an acceptable status quo.
So ask yourself this question... is your voice joined with the other voices to create a thing of beauty, or are you home with laryngitis?