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Archive for January, 2011

Something Different…

After listening to the State of the Union the other night I’ve been thinking about what the President said. First of all, I enjoyed his speech very much. I thought he did an excellent job of laying out the problems our country currently faces. He outlined the needs and proposed a few ways of tackling these issues. Most importantly he called not only the government to work together to bring solutions to these problems but he called on the American people. Fairly early in his speech while he was addressing the issue of education in this country, President Obama commissioned all the young people listening to consider teaching as a career. He stated that if one wanted to make a difference in this country that this profession in particular held a great responsibility for bringing about change. And this got me thinking. Actually, it shook me. I realized clearly for the first time that it is not only our government who is responsible for bringing about change and solutions but the people of this country themselves. WE are responsible for our future. We are responsible for change. If we wish to rely more on clean energy and alternative fuels then we must attempt to enact that. Despite what the government may give us – incentives, various options, etc – we should not think that we must wait around for a solution to be sent our way. We are not children waiting for our parents’ permission nor are we incompetent sloths waiting to be fed the right choice. WE are a nation of intelligent capable individuals who need to step up to the plate and take our futures in our hands. Our government certainly can not shrug off their responsibility to enact laws or open doors that will better enable us as a people to strive for the best. But we can not expect them to do everything. We are just as responsible and we should hold ourselves to the same level of integrity and responsibility that our forefathers did. This nation was not built by a pre-established government. It was built by farmers and laborers who sought to bring about a better life for themselves. WE are a part of this nation. WE are the components that make this country great, or not so great. In an era where quick fixes are handed to us on a daily basis, we had best be careful to not lose sight of the part we play in creating the world around us. President Obama was right in handing power back to the school districts, asking them to brainstorm ideas about how to improve the way education is dealt out in the country. Each state has their own needs just as each person has their own needs. We shouldn’t rely on a select few in government to come up with all the solutions. What made this country great is the combination of many minds sharing ideas, debating and resolving, building off of each other to establish something greater than sum of its parts. So here is what I wonder and perhaps propose to each of us…in what ways can we each, either as individuals or working in small groups of friends, act on the issues brought up in the State of the Union?

Think about the energy issue. What am I doing now to conserve energy? Can I use less electricity? Can I switch to energy efficient bulbs? Am I recycling? Can I start a recycling program in my neighborhood? What about my car? Am I driving excessively? Where can I cut back? What about taking the bus, riding my bike, carpooling? What’s the next step beyond these small solutions? Where can I be a part of the bigger solution?

And what about education? Have you helped your kids with their homework? The government isn’t going to get your kid good grades. It is up to your child and you to ensure that an education is attained. No one can force you to learn. No one can force you to enjoy it. And if we don’t start encouraging our children at home then we will continue to see the national levels in math, science and reading slip amongst the other nations of the world. We are a brilliant people. We would not be standing where we’re at today if it had not been for the intelligence of our fathers and grandfathers. We are a nation that sent men to the moon. We can send our children to school.

Okay, so what if you don’t have kids? What about being a mentor? What about volunteering at the YMCA? Everyone has skills that could be taught. You don’t have to be a math whiz to have value in this culture. You could teach a child about fishing. Or heck, you don’t even have to teach kids. Teach other adults. There are plenty of people out there who want to improve their skills whether in reading and writing or ceramics or rock climbing. We are never too old to learn.

What if we looked at our country as we would a business. My father has a saying that you are only as good as the men and women around you. Working as a team means that the weakest link is as strong as the chain gets. So, let’s not eliminate that link but encourage that link to become stronger. EVERY person is worth something in this country. No matter who you are, no matter your background, you are important to this world for the sole reason that you are unique. You have unique thoughts, ways of doing things, and experiences. All of these add up to the fact that you bring something unique to the table. And in a time when we are searching for new ideas, new ways of doing things, it might be your voice that makes the difference. We need to encourage one another. We are not autonomous in this life, though the computer and internet may make us feel this way. But look at Facebook. There is a reason community networks such as this are so popular. We are social creatures. We need community. We need family. And this country is our family. Sure, just like any family we have weird Uncle so-and-so who likes to clean in between his toes with his socks during dinner, or the aunt who snorts when she laughs and loves to give bear hugs. Yes, we have our quirks but it’s the inclusion of these quirks that make us great. We do not ask for conformity, we as for community. We do not ask that we all dress the same, pray the same, or think the same, nor are we asked to remain silent. Instead, this country asks us to stand up, pray freely, think with our imagination, dream big dreams and shout out answers when we find them. We are asked to participate and take ownership of this country because it belongs to all of us. We are the guardians, we are the citizens, we are our neighbors and our children and we are what makes this country what it is. So let’s make it a great one.

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Perks and Parker

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