Vote people first!

This story appears in the Nuns on the Bus feature series. View the full series.

by Jan Cebula

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Editor's note: Follow the tour at NETWORK's site, where you can find an updated schedule of stops – Bus Events – as well as blogs From the Road by sisters, including photos.

“Vote people first! Vote people first!” shouted the folks gathered at Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement as our bus pulled up Wednesday. Stepping off the bus to cheers was both humbling and energizing. The moment captured what we’re really about. Joining together, encouraging one another, to do what we really care about: putting people first.

We’d already had quite a morning! Day One of Nuns on the Bus was one huge swoosh of energy! We were all swept up in the surge emanating from people passionate about what counts.

And who could be any more passionate than Sr. Simone Campbell to get us going at the kick-off rally on the steps of the capitol! Moved by the stories of people she’s met across the country, she ignited the energy and urged us on. Vote people first! Not money, not power, not politics. Vote people first! We the people. We the voters.

Vice-president Joe Biden took the stage and addressed the crowd about the widening income gap and the danger this presents to democracy. And about the power released from people who combine conscience with passion. Energy swirled around.

Afterward, he hopped on the bus and rode with us to the café where we had lunch. Along the way he continued to share with us his knowledge about world affairs, his passion for putting people first. At lunch we all sat around one table and he talked about his faith, the church and shared personal stories about the important influence women religious had had in his life. As he left, he took time to greet everyone there, taking time to talk with each. Another simple reminder to put people first.

Then we joined the ICCI folks for an afternoon of door-knocking, going out in pairs to talk with people about the importance of raising the minimum wage and voting. As soon as we mentioned raising the minimum wage, a connection was made. Stories poured out about people working hard and not being able to afford housing and food. “Nobody can support themselves on the current minimum wage.” They all signed cards pledging to vote!

All along the way, we’ll be asking people to declare “I am a voter!” and sign a pledge to vote. If they take the pledge we’re inviting them to sign the bus. They’ll be riding along with us on the bus. All of us together declaring “Vote people first!”

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[Sr. Jan Cebula,OSF, is U.S. liaison for Global Sisters Report and a member of the Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, Iowa.]