Monday, January 22, 2018

I Am #132

April 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Featured, Personal Development

Have you ever seen the movie “I Am Number Four”?


It’s about fugitives from another planet hiding on Earth to avoid bounty hunters. They’ve also got some special powers that humans don’t have. Pretty cool. This post nothing to do with that post though other than the first two words of the title, “I Am”.

I will tell you what this post is about though… eventually.

For those of you that know me, you know that I’m a refugee and I’m extremely proud of my heritage. I’m also extremely proud to be an American. The United States truly is the land of opportunity. I know that when you turn on the TV and watch the news all you hear is all this negative stuff that’s going on here and around the world and let me just say that there is so much opportunity out there that it’s really amazing!

When I was just a wee tot, my parents got their citizenship. Since I was just a child, when my parents got their citizenship, I got mine. I remember having to leave class back then to go sign my certificate of citizenship. I didn’t understand back then what it all meant. I just knew I had to sign a piece of paper with my picture on it.

Fast forward years later. I’m now in college and I’m 19 and around rolls a presidential election. And guess what?!? I can vote! That’s right. That’s a privilege I have as a citizen of the United States! And yes! I voted. In fact, I stood in line with a bunch of my college buddies and we all voted. I was proud and excited to be able to vote get my voice heard! And I’ve voted every time since then too! Voting not only allows me to provide my support to the candidate of my choice, it also reminds me of how grateful I am to be a citizen of the greatest country in the world!

Fast forward a few more years to April 9, 2013. April 9, 2013 was free cone day at Ben & Jerry’s. So of course I had to go out and get a free cone because well… it’s free ice cream… come on. Who can resist? April 9, 2013 is also voting day. So yes, I had to go vote as well.

free cone day

It was a busy day, so I wasn’t able to go out and vote early in the day. Instead, I got to the voting station about an hour before they close. I’m there with my wife (who was also voting) and my kid (who was just along for the ride since he’s way too young to vote). My son immediately starts chatting it up with the volunteers at the voting area. Of course he’s only 5, so I’m not sure what he’s chatting about. He gets a “I voted” sticker though. Kids… they know how to get the goods!


Anyway, as I’m checking in, the lady who checks me in gives me a ballot and writes on the number 132 on it.

Now understand that voting has been open all day long and there’s only about an hour left before the polls close. So number 132 can’t be what I think it means can it? I mean, there’s a whole community of people who should be out voting. So I ask the question… “um… 132… does that mean that I’m only the 132 person to vote today?”

Do you know what the lady told me? Her answer floored me!

She said, “Yes. That’s right. Your the 132 person to vote and that’s actually pretty high.” She seemed happy about that number. It even brought a smile to her face. I, on the other hand, was completely shocked! I went on to ask her (sarcastically of course) if there was an entire community that was able to vote or was that just my faulty thinking about the voting process. She said, “Well, since this is a smaller vote and not a national one, there’s not a lot of people who come out.”

Turns out that the way that the districts are broken up, there were well over 1000 eligible voters in my district. This means that when I got to the voting booth, there were only about 10% of the people who actually got out and voted. 10% and that was high! I’m still bewildered. 90% of the people who were eligible to vote for their local officials did not come out to vote.

Now what most people don’t understand is how much local officials really affect your life in the community. It’s the local trustees and small town Mayors that determine the village and town rules and regulations. They work with the community to allow or deny permits for building and repairing things. They work to manage budgets for local services. And yes, they determine local property taxes and how those tax dollars are used. And a whole lot more!

I know, I know. Local officials don’t really get a lot of props for well, pretty much anything. I actually have a few friends who are local trustees. I know my local Mayor and have worked with him on projects for years. They really don’t get a lot of credit for some of the work they put in.

All that aside, 10%!!! I still can’t get over it! Only 10% of those who have the privilege of voting actually got out and voted! Let me further drive home the point. Today, April 10, 2013, I went out to lunch and met 3 other people. So there were four of us at sitting there waiting for our food at lunch. So I asked them if they all went out to vote. Guess what they said.

You are correct! They ALL said no! I was odd man out. Remember, I wasn’t born with the right to vote in this country. They were. What’s going on here?!?

What’s going on is that most people tend to take for granted that which they have and are given.

While being given something doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable, something in people’s head makes them think it’s less valuable. Think about it. If someone gave you something expensive, how do you value it? If instead you had to work 6 months in order to buy that same item, how would you value it? Did the value of that object actually change or is it still the same item regardless of whether someone gave it to you or whether you have to work 6 months to buy it?

Take a good book for example. If one book costs $10 and another one costs $100, which one would you say is more valuable? The real answer is how good is the book and how does the information in that book affect you? People seem to think that the $10 book might be less valuable and that of course isn’t true. Just because something costs more than something else doesn’t mean it’s more valuable.

It’s the same thing with some of our rights. People that don’t have those rights are willing to risk everything to come into this country and get that right. I have had good friends who have waited years upon years to get their citizenship and the rights that come with it. On the flip side, those that were born and live in this country, take that privilege for granted. They’re too busy or they’re too tired (that’s just horrible) or this or that…

Don’t make that mistake!!! Be grateful for everything you have! Whenever I’m feeling down or things aren’t going the way I want them to, I think about the things I do have and how grateful I am to have it. I have a wonderful wife and an incredible kid full of positive energy and excitement. I have food and clothes and a roof over my head. I have awesome friends and a loving extended family. I have the right to vote and live in a country full of opportunity. And I never forget my roots and where I came from.


I am number 132 and I’m proud of it. What number are you?

And if you weren’t a number this time around, then what number will you be next time?

Celebrate Life!
Chaffee-Thanh Nguyen