If not you, then who?

Terri CooperFor nearly 10 years I have been offering free yoga sessions to Miami’s youth in crisis. The kids most dear to my heart are the ones who have already begun a life of incarceration or are living and working the streets. For these 10 years I have indignantly bitched and moaned about the system here in Florida. I’ve complained about issues involving our public schools and children’s services. I’ve ranted about the way we are throwing away our young black youth in this city. I’ve even gone so far as to preach about these issues; and have successfully gotten my wealthy white yoga community to help me fundraise so that I can try to fill the gap where our system has dropped off.

But I bet you can guess how many times I voted in my local election. You know, the one that actually chooses who gets to be a judge or a school board member right here in my own community. Yep. I’m ashamed to admit it. But not a single time.

Like many other like-minded yogis, I have blatantly avoided the actual political system for years now. I don’t like it. It literally hurts my heart when I watch political news, as most of it is slander and BS. And, if that wasn’t enough, I have also believed that maybe the elections are all a big scam anyway and that my vote doesn’t count. I’ve even said the words “the election was rigged and they cheated”.

I’m sure to all of you reading this post the level of spiritual separation is probably quite obvious. I believe this is what Patanjali referred to as Avidya or simply put, ignorance.
If I am truly committed to my practice (not to mention my community) I must engage with steadiness and ease in all facets of life. It is not yoga to pick and choose where I will be present but rather to be present and breathe new life energy into the very places that feel hard, frozen or even dead. Yoga continues to teach me this. And this new depth of awareness is the gift that YogaVotes has already given me. I’ve no clue where this path will lead me, and honestly I’m pretty frightened. But I will continue to step into the unknown. For the sake of us all.

This year I will go to the polls. I think our political system could use a little yoga. And as my teacher and friend Seane Corn has said to me many times “If not you, then who?”

The Florida primary election is Aug 14. You must already be registered to vote to participate in this election. But for the General Election, it’s not too late to get involved. Register by October 9 so that you can vote on November 6.
Find out the details for your state at nonpartisan site evoter.com.

YogaVotes is a nonpartisan campaign aimed at getting yogis to the polls. Learn more and get registered at www.YogaVotes.org. And pledge to vote alongside your favorite yoga leaders.

Terri Cooper is the founder of Yoga Gangsters, owner of 305 Yoga & Outreach in Miami, hostess of Yoga Aid South Florida and is the Florida Campaign Lead for OTM’s YogaVotes. Terri is embarking on a national tour to spread the mission of Yoga Gangsters. Learn more at www.YogaGangsters.org.

Terri Cooper is the founder of Yoga Gangsters, owner of 305 Yoga & Outreach in Miami, hostess of Yoga Aid South Florida and is the Florida Campaign Lead for OTM's YogaVotes. Terri is embarking on a national tour to spread the mission of Yoga Gangsters. Learn more at www.YogaGangsters.org.

6 responses to “If not you, then who?”

  1. gina

    AWESOMELY SAID!!!

  2. Chelsea

    “It is not yoga to pick and choose where I will be present but rather to be present and breathe new life energy into the very places that feel hard, frozen or even dead”

    A f-ing men, sister. Love this article. Your writing is infused with honesty, eloquence, and a level of vulnerability that allows me to relate to you on so many levels. Thank you. Well done!!

  3. Sylvia Michelle Jabaley

    As a yoga student and “seasoned” government/history teacher, I salute your honesty and welcome your participation. Our freedom to participate (or not) defines our democracy and I am grateful that mindful, compassionate women like you will lead others to engage in the democratic process. Dr. Maya Angelou said, “When we know better, we do better.”

  4. Jennifer Myers

    I have been thinking about this all day. I feel like the main reason I dont vote is because I have categorized all politiicans into one group- slimy. The lies and deciept are so blatant I am instantly turned off and want to remove myself from any associationg with them- and whole thing. This – in turn- allows them to continue to be slimy self serving liars. So one of the reasons I dont vote, not just general, but local, is because I dont know who to believe. What is needed is facts. What did each candidate support- vote for- back- during their political career so far- because it changes as their self interests change- and I would like to get those facts out to people who are so turned off by the poiltical system that they have stopped listening. If a candidate, for instance, has cut funding to animal or childrens welfare over the last term, I would like to know. The date, the actual terms, the facts. Where is this information located? The record of every political decision made by the politician while they had the power to do it.

    1. yogavotes

      Approve.

  5. Mark Bennett

    Politics is the antithesis of yoga. If you want to be involved then help out with your local food bank. Getting involved with politics corrupts the spirit.