Posted in Education, Writing

Farewell 2011, Hello 2012!

Ron Paul, member of the United States House of...
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Tonight my wife and I took our children to a Ron Paul Town Hall at the MidAmerica Center in Council Bluffs, IA.  We’ve been keeping tabs on the Republican candidates through social media, television debates, newspaper, and discussions around the dinner table.  Being a homeschooling family, our children have been very interested in and vocal about their concerns and criticisms on the issues facing our nation.  Ron Paul mentioned some of the departments he would do away with if elected President….starting with the Department of Education!  The quality of education has endured a decay in quality since the Federal government made it their business to get involved in and in some cases overrule the State’s rights/business.  “No Child Left Behind“, and now “Race to the Top” are classic examples of federal programs that attempt to address the symptoms of social problems not being dealt with.

My daughter, Madeleine, and I were questioned by a reporter from a Pennsylvania gazette about our views on Ron Paul.  I was glad to hear his clarifications on his foreign policy decisions–he’s not ignorant and would endorse/support going after maniacs who threaten our lands and people (9/11), but he feels that any action to “go to war” should be in accordance with the Constitution and the matter voted on and supported by a majority of Congress!  I also appreciate his constant referral to “what is the role of government?”  Few candidates on the Republican field will rewind the discussion of politics all the way back to the Founder’s intent in the role of government–to protect our rights!  My college course at Bellevue University has really got me pouring over these founding documents in detail.  The more I learn the more angry I’m becoming about the erosion of our liberties and freedoms.  My hope is that more Americans will show up at the voting booths.  Considering the past history (view voting statistics here) its a shame that so few of all who benefit from living in this country don’t show up to exercise their rights/choice by doing their research and checking the ballot box for the candidates that best represent their values/ideals.  Anyway, before I get too riled up let me just say, I’m very interested in the outcome of the caucuses and the outcome of the race for a Republican nominee.

This year has definitely been a year of personal metamorphosis.  As mentioned in previous blogs, I’ve moved into a new house, my girls started driving, I started college, lost a grandmother, a dog and two cats…life never slows down or waits for anyone.  For this reason I’ve decided to not allow any more circumstances in my life be the result of indecision or lack of choosing.  There’s no time like the present, and nobody is going to look out for your best interest….so you better do it.  I decided to get a head start on goals and New Years Resolutions!  Beginning Monday of this week, I started eating less, exercising more, nurturing my passion for writing and reading, and generally taking better care of myself.  Its amazing how much you can pack into such a short amount of time when you set your mind to it.

Here are just a few of the exciting personal events/goals on the horizon for 2012:

Turning 45 years old 🙂
Celebrating 20 years of marriage
Graduating from Bellevue University with a Bachelor’s in Business Analysis and Management
Becoming a published author (in addition to my blog )
Voting in the 2012 Presidential Election
Developing and keeping personal fitness habits to improve my health
Growing as many vegetables and fruit for the family on our postage stamp-sized yard
Improving the quality (being more present/conscious) of my relationships with family and friends

To all who stumble across this post, I wish you the safest of New Years celebrations and an exciting and personally fulfilling and prosperous 2012.

Posted in Education, Politics, Writing

Eroding Freedoms

Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jeffe...
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I’m enrolled at Bellevue University and participating in a course they call the Kirkpatrick Series.  This is an in-class and online participation course of study.  I’m really enjoying it so far.  We are studying the founding of America and the details of our founding documents:  The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Bill of Rights.  Additional readings are required from scholarly studies, the Federalist Papers and a great deal of essays involving opposing view points.

I find that I’m becoming more passionate each week about my rights, freedoms, and responsibilities as a citizen.  Over the next couple of months I’ll share with you some of my thoughts that are the result of conversation that I post on our classroom’s discussion board.   This particular post I feel passionate about sharing.  I feel that the reason our country is in the state its in, is because we have too many in our society today who have great expectations but aren’t willing to put forth much effort.  I hope you enjoy reading it.  Feel free to add your perspectives even if you don’t agree:

I was just thinking on the way home tonight regarding the responsibilities of citizenship. There are so many instances in our society where we have established a system or set something in place to “take care of the details for us” (technology, insurance policies, public school systems, local and state elected officials, retirement accounts, cruise control, etc…).

Our society is riddled with the false assumptions that because we’ve checked the right box, paid our premiums, elected so-and-so, etc…that somebody is taking care of all the details for us.  That’s an incredible amount of trust to place in complete strangers hands!  All of us are so busy with the details of our own lives that we don’t have time to check up on the job being done for us until somebody realizes its being done wrong or not at all.  Then we react with shocked surprise!

There’s an expression I’ve heard (related to church attendance) “Don’t check your brain at the door” (meaning…with all situations, we must be vigilant and mentally sharp with skills of observation, logic, and reasoning.)  Challenge what you disagree with, ask questions when you don’t understand, and take action when you feel that something’s just not right.  We have lost many freedoms and rights because of our assumptions and passiveness.  I believe the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street participants are borne out of the anger of people who are waking up and realizing (unfortunately after the fact) that not all have acted in good faith, with ethics and morals, when entrusted to act on behalf of other people (Madoff, Enron, Blagojevich, Wall Street, the list goes on.)

As we enter this election cycle, ask yourself:  “Am I willing to give up freedoms, rights, and burden my children and the next several generations unnecessarily?”  If your answer is no, then you must ask:  “Am I giving my best, am I holding myself and those around me accountable to standards and values that best represent everyone involved (not just those who agree with me)?”  These are the types of thoughts our Founding Fathers committed themselves to wrestle with before writing such liberating words that set our nation free from tyranny.  Its easy to criticize others by passively assigning labels (liberal, conservative, left-wing/right-wing, fundamentalist), its much harder to critically examine the impacts of actions or inactions that will cause permanent and “freedom-altering” changes to our country that may some day forbid us to so readily throw labels around.

It is not enough for us cast our vote, we must be involved, be observant and willing to take necessary and sometimes unpopular or inconvenient actions to preserve this great democracy.  We do not have to be victims, and our government is only empowered at the will of “We the People!”  I fear we have allowed our society to become split into two classes of Americans, the main street citizen, and the politician.  We have made the process of governing ourselves far too complicated and constipated!  So much so, that the main street American trying to seek “the dream” cannot possibly comprehend the fine print and understand the impacts (cost/effects).  If I can be expected to write a persuasive paper limited to between 1000 and 1200 words to succinctly articulate my position for or against an issue, why should any bill presented to our legislatures require reams of paper?

Its time for us to pick up the power of the mighty pen (or laptop, iPad) and take action, like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, and write for ourselves a more practical future, filled with promise, freedom and hope for future generations!

Be of great courage my fellow Americans!