In honor of Halloween and the election season, today I tell a tale that is frightening because it is true. We have a democracy in the United States - our votes count and our laws uphold our nation. This is not true everywhere in the world. I lived in South Africa several years ago and during my first Christmas holiday there some friends and I decided to travel around southern Africa.
After the beauty that surrounded us I was not prepared for what was next.
A Road Block.
Armed men in uniform welding semi-automatic machine guns. My stomach dropped and my heart began to beat faster. The air in the car became palatable as my Zimbabwean friend uttered "remain calm, I will take care of this." My friends and I were silenced - if the armed men heard our American accents the ante would have been significantly higher. We were ordered to stop and after an brief exchange of words and a handshake we were allowed to continue on our way.
The driver muttered curses to himself but counted us lucky that the armed man took his first bribe and did not ask for more - that handshake was actually an exchange of money. Had it not been sufficient our path may not have been so easy.
On this brisk fall day I remind you of our blessings. We live in a democratic nation and each and every one of our votes count. I thank God daily that I am an American. Never in my life will a scene like the one played out in Africa happen here.
*photos courtesy of travel websites - I don't know how to work my scanner!