"Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up
easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grandchildren are once more
slaves." ~D.H. Lawrence
How you ask? Our soft and privileged living has put us in a place where we perceive everything as disposable and replaceable. In our minds, everything has a price tag, or more appropriately, a UPC code. We are taught from childhood that if one wants something, one should find a way to accumulate the wealth to buy that want. Even our souls. Tithe, give to the Church, send an offering overseas to a hungry child or a foreign mission. Why do we remit these? Is it because we truly are concerned about the financial condition of the Church, the empty stomach of said child, or needs of the mission? Maybe sometimes, but more likely it is because it makes US feel better. It somehow washes away the guilt ridden fact that we are driving to the grocery store in an SUV that cost what it would take to fund any one of the above entities for a good long time (especially the hungry child). But the $5 we pledge somehow placates our need to feel "charitable" or "altruistic". We feel that by sitting in a pew and dropping a pittance in the plate somehow makes us a charitable Christian. Maybe praying for an ill friend or acquaintance, or forwarding an email "prayer wheel" might fill our perceived spiritual requisite. It's the "little dab will do ya" and off to the restaurant so we can hurry up and eat and get home to watch "Family Guy". Couple of cocktails and a prozac and off to never-never land and a good night's rest so we can get right back to solving the world's problems tomorrow. Break something? No problem, buy another. Lose something? No problem, buy another. I think the size of our trash cans paint for me a pretty good picture of our attitudes and lifestyles. Remember when we carried out one metal can to the curb once or twice a week? Now we haul out a plastic sack that size at least once a day and chunk it into a dumpster big enough to hold, well, Pavarotti. We keep nothing anymore.Add to this list of disposability and replaceability, the mentality with which we perceive our great country. Nothing confirmed. Rush to the polling place and place your vote. Put a bumper sticker on aforementioned SUV. Listen to the news and complain about how things are going, or not. With that we are "politically active" or "publicly engaged". Ha. I wonder what the framers would think about that heavy handed approach to our government? "Little dab will do ya". Yeah, I've heard of something called The Constitution, but, hey that is what I voted for those folks for. Let them handle it. Yeah, I know a guy who is always quoting it, but man, these days you've got to be careful because the boss is a staunch demo-republi-crat and if HE finds out that I am voting something besides a straight ticket and compiling a pamphlet that may run contrary his pigeon-holed dogmatism. Why I might lose my job! My benefits, my mortgage, my big screen! The country will take care of itself if people will just vote for MY candidate! I am a Republi/Demo/conervo/liberalcrat. I parrot what Rush, Obama, Bush, PBS, Fox News say. I know that I am politically engaged.
"Fewer and fewer Americans possess objects that have a patina, old furniture,
grandparents pots and pans, the used things, warm with generations of human
touch, essential to a human landscape. Instead, we have our paper phantoms,
transistorized landscapes. A featherweight portable museum."~Susan Sontag
"This will be the land of the free, only so long as it is the home of the
"To speak, tho' sure, with seeming diffidence.For want of modesty is want
of sense.If you ask, Why less properly? I must repeat the lines,Immodest words
admit of no defense,For want of modesty is want of sense."
"For, if you would inform, a positive and dogmatical manner in advancing
your sentiments may provoke contradiction and prevent a candid attention. If you
wish information and improvement from the knowledge of others, and yet, at the
same time, express yourself as firmly fixed in your present opinions, modest,
sensible men, who do not love disputation, will probably leave you undisturbed
in the possession of your error. And by such a manner you can seldom hope to
recommend yourself in pleasing your hearers, or to persuade those whose
concurrence you desire."~Benjamin Franklin
Here is our challenge. How can we effectively and immediately take up the mantle of good and engaged citizenship. How can we be an example for our youth? How can we be the kind of American that all will want to be while preserving the principles and beliefs of the framers? What can we do to reach the most ears and to gently and morally educate? What can we do today for our republic tomorrow? What must we do to embolden? What must we do to be that example to emulate?What simple but effective action can I do as a citizen? How can I give back? What issues in my area are in need of attention? How can the hand of my humble leadership take my children and those they know to a different America than the one we see approaching us today? As a citizen of an America that generations of people have fought to preserve, how can I show those who would like to learn to be a better American citizen, to free their minds enough to own them, to choose their battles so as to win them?What can I do to help them?Whether it is in education of the public, feeding of the hungry, housing of the cold or love of the unloved. This is the higher purpose of our nation. When our countrymen realize this, we will heal. Not by political action, not by violent revolution, not by dogmatism and insistence, but by gentleness and kindness. These powers heal. That is why we have advocated so strongly education first. Not strong and divisive action. We hope you understand these things.With that being said, let us remind ourselves where we come from and of the things that would aim to divide us. Let us resist those things as if they were death, as if they were the spoilers of our prosperity, as oftentimes they are. Let us advocate a return to that place of origin and let us hold accountable all actions up to this point so that we may by reproof or by recognition, return to a greater good. Let us respect one another enough to not criminalize dissent but engage the dissenter so as to dissolve all barriers between us. I co-wrote much of this letter with my friend Paul A. Mabelis from Rochester, NY. I am from Abilene, TX. There could be no more opposite cultures in our country than the two from which we come, however we stand as an example that all of us have a common interest. Citizenship, patriotism and love of country.Let us be conscionable in our efforts to restore the republic and retrieve what we have lost; for with this premise shall we have the promise of a renewed Republic proud once again in its independence, shining in its example, worthy of its stature and rich in its citizenship.