Brooks: The meek shall inherit the vote

Twenty-two of us gathered Wednesday night in the upper room of a church.

Many of us had never met before, but a common desire for justice and action drew us together. There were teenagers, young professionals and mothers with babies.

We were there to learn how to get out the vote in the coming elections. We were there to learn how our voices can be heard.

Arriving a bit late, I sat next to a young man with bling in his pierced ears. At the break I asked him why he was there.

The young man, a junior at Costa Mesa High School, said he started volunteering at his church to get some community service hours for his graduation requirement.

Then he heard about the Get Out the Vote campaign.

He felt motivated to get others involved, like his parents, so they can do something and not just work all the time.

I liked his sense of purpose and vision. Even a vague vision of "do something" is motivating, a first step from where we are to where we could be.

We learned that 52% of the population of Costa Mesa is Anglo, while 36% has Spanish surnames. However, only 15% of the registered voters in our city have Spanish surnames.

We decided that we would like to close that gap as much as possible so that everyone who is eligible to vote would vote.

We set big goals. There were 22 of us there, and we have about 115 volunteer shifts to cover. We discussed volunteering evenings and weekends.

No one seemed overwhelmed or deterred. I felt more motivated and my mind raced with ideas as we planned together. I was glad I had showed up.

This morning my Bible study landed me in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.

One of his teachings is, "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."

As I reflected on this teaching, I thought of the Get Out the Vote group. Meek isn't a word we use much anymore, but it seemed to describe this group — humble, modest, willing to endure patiently.

It is not a weak group by any means, but unassuming and willing to put in the work. I think of all the groups that must be meeting this time of year making plans around the election. I thought of the money, energy and power that go into planning the political parties' national conventions.

We even joked last night about inviting President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to a candidates' forum, laughing at how ridiculous the invitation would be.

We are a small group without much money or power. We are meek, and perhaps if we maintain this posture, the words of Jesus will be true, and we will inherit the earth, or at least representation in the city.

CRISSY BROOKS is co-founder and executive director of Mika Community Development Corp., a faith-based nonprofit in Costa Mesa, where she lives.

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