With the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the importance of women using their voices through voting and fighting for beliefs beyond the election has been brought back to the forefront of women’s issues and American rights. As the US election nears, it has never been more important than for women to realize they can use their voices and votes for change.

My adult daughter called me recently with excitement in her voice. She said she heard a podcast that mentioned how women can manage their retirement account and choose to invest it in companies that are run by women. It was an “aha” moment for her. I can use my power to influence and she promptly set up an appointment with her retirement manager. The power in her voice was palpable. How is it that so many of us have walked through the world and missed little opportunities like this to actually exercise the power of our voice?

I wonder, have we become lazy with the gift of our citizenship, one more opportunity to use our voice? I am inspired by stories of immigrants who go through the process of learning history so they can earn their right to be a citizen. I have heard this story from many men and women in my training classes.

Yet many American citizens born in this country quietly take this right for granted and sometimes slip into entitlement, or even disdain. How many of us have a genuine understanding of the gift of citizenship?

Once when I was traveling across the globe and standing in an international airport, everywhere I turned there were armed military men with AK-47s — a frightening scene. It was quite sobering. That moment reminded me of what I had living in America, a gift I had taken for granted. I came home with a renewed commitment to nurture and embrace that gift.

The first step in using the gift of citizenship is exercising our right to vote. Why is that so important?

1. All elections matter. In the 2016 presidential election, around 138 million Americans voted comprising of 58.1% of our country’s voting-eligible population, which means 41.9% are missing out on the opportunity to weigh in on the direction they would like our country to go. One of the things we’ve learned as a collective society during this pandemic is that all elections matter, whether on a local, state or federal level. We’ve had a front row seat to what happens when that power runs amok.

2. Voting balances the system. Voting is the lever that keeps power in check. Without it, greed, money, and power blinds those in elected positions. They interpret our not voting as indifference. Why should they worry about doing their job and maintaining their integrity when we don’t care? We’ve allowed indifference to rule for too long, and like a cancer, we have each been complicit in a recipe for disaster.

3. Invest energy in the country. Every fulfilling relationship is based on both giving and receiving. Have we been so busy on receiving our freedoms — the freedom to drive wherever we want; to ride on the roads; to shop in the stores; to see our friends; to travel, knowing that the military and police will protect us — that we’ve actually ignored the need to invest in our part of the equation? I remember Stephen Covey used to talk about an emotional bank account. He stressed the importance of making deposits into relationships so that there was something to withdraw from later. I think the world needs a resurgence of his wisdom.

Voting reminds me a bit of absentee parents. They enjoy partaking in the act of procreation and the birth of a child. Then far too many abdicate their responsibility for the long game.

Many of us have experienced the void and the pain that goes with absentee parents. Perhaps we can use this analogy to reenergize our interest in the political process. Is it time for us to show more love for our country? When love is absent the creation that was birthed all those years ago, can run amok and cause great harm – at home and abroad. Maybe all need to be reminded that America was birthed by people who had a vision for a better future. Now, during this intense and volatile time in our country’s history, it’s time for women to step up, leverage our rights, and change the world again. Do not be apathetic in your views or the perception that your vote will not matter. We were given the right to vote 100 years ago, but I truly believe that now is our time to use our voice and our vote to change the narrative. Don’t play small for another moment. Unleash ‘Your Lion Inside’ — the power you’ve always known you have, deep down.”