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!
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