Friday, January 29, 2010

Open Your Ears & Minds. It's Your Country at Stake.

Reprinted from DC Metro Moms.  It's part two in my week long social/social media experiment.  Results are forthcoming.

January, 1961 John F. Kennedy asked the following question during his inaugural address, "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country." Forty-nine years later the same question is still being asked. Not by a President this time but by our very own citizens of this great country.

Looking back, I find it interesting to note that Kennedy proposed this during the early sixties. Times were indeed a'chan-gin' and it would give way to less of the "greatest generation's" mindset of service and being bound to our communities but to the "me" generation, the 1970s and 80s, a time full of self-fulfillment, corporate ladder climbing, medical and technological breakthroughs and the end of the Cold War. What followed in the 1990s was more of the same. The new millennium didn't shatter any records in service either. In fact, it is harder today to figure out a way to serve your country than it was thirty years ago, much less almost fifty years ago.

Now we have a new President who has repeatedly asked us to put aside time for community service but that isn't necessarily the service I'm talking about. Looking back again at Kennedy's address you will find the following quote, "So let us begin anew- remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate. Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us." There! Right there! You just read that too. It's a call to the nation that we are still struggling with today. Now, more than ever, we need to unite and stop trying to "win". Winning isn't everything especially when our nation's future is at stake.

The political and media zealots as well as the followers on both sides need to stop and think about the greater good, which is their job anyway, and remember why they were put in office. However, it is our job to do this as well. We need to stop and listen to the other side. Really listen to the non-zealots out there and hear what they believe and want. Turns out, it is usually the same thing just expressed in a different way. We need change to our system and our country. It is divided and broken. It can be fixed but we cannot just leave it up to the politicians to figure it out. We need to ask ourselves what we can do and begin talking calmly to each other even if we think we don't agree. We need to work on solutions ourselves and then petition our politicians to follow suit. We cannot teach our children manners, civic-mindedness and lessons in civility if we are always beating down the other side.

Arguing and filibustering get you nowhere. No one wants to listen to the bully on the playground or the kid who never plays fair. If we can't do that amongst ourselves how will we ever climb out of the messes we are tackling today? Kennedy asked us what we can do for our country and I think it is high time we step up, be willing to admit neither side is completely right or wrong and begin talking. We aren't admitting to weakness we are thinking of the greater good- the future of this country and ourselves.

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