Article of the week - 02-04-2008
The United States election is over and a new president promising change is taking office. The question is of course, what now? Is the election really over? Is the promises that has been made going to be kept? What should I do?
The election really isn't over. We are judged every day and must continually prove ourselves, and forever strive for progress. This is true for president-elect Barack Obama, and is certainly true for ourselves. We are judged on what we do, the people that we work with, the plans we make and how we follow through on those plans. President-elect Obama is publishing his plans for reinvigorating America. The question is what should we, as everyday people should do.
While the some of the new presidents plans are certainly well intentioned, the key to it all is public involement. The best plans crafted by the best and brightest minds, but which is greeted by indifference and scepticism will undoubtedly fail. As the old expersion goes, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink".
This is the one item that we here at In31Days find most disappointing. President-elect Obama's site change.gov is full of plans. He has major plans for every aspect of American life, but reading through those plans is extremely disturbing. The least objection is that very few places does it involve the general public - it takes a heavy handed, though good intentioned, approach. Its mentality seems to be that the government is to lead and really doesn't need our help.
Involvement is the key to anything. It inspires action, which produces positive results. A good plan details what should be done. Get involved in your community and your family. Gather your resources and grow something new. Look outside yourself, find something that need to be done, and help out.
It's amazing what you can find. If you approach the world with a scowl the world will carefully leave you alone. If you close yourself off with a newspaper, book, or laptop the world will leave you to your work. Open yourself to new people and new experiences and the world will introduce itself. I've talked with people in shopping lines, waiting for trains, and in dentist waiting rooms. Listening to people can show you a new perspective that you may not be aware of and of personal tradegies that need care.
The most amazing thing is how few people we really know nowdays. It's probably a time issue, we are too busy to get involved with others. It could be a safety issue, society today is very "what you do is your own affair" - the person next to you could be a mass murderer.
Or they could be an oridinary person. Just like us. Occassionally sad, feeling slightly lost, and overwhelmed. Rarely nowdays can people name the people that are on their street and what the local issues may be. We depend on newspapers and news networks to neatly filter the news to us. Knowing the people around you is the beginning of involvement. You can't be involved without knowing people.
Being involved means trying to help people. This can be as little as a true smile. Who wouldn't want someone to give them a friendly smile? It's surprising the reactions you get from a friendly smile. Every once in a while it will make someones day.
If the effect of a smile can be so great imagine what getting really involved with people can do. There are dozens of community organizations that need help. Start your own organization of what you care about. Plant a garden and give away the vegatables. Practice "Random acts of kindness". Get involved with your local church. See something broken, fix it.
A commercial that I recently saw on television was for a chain hardware store. It showed a man who picked up a toolset and immediately set out upon the town, fixing everything in sight. It ended with the man on a ladder welding a street sign back into place, with a neighbor telling him it was time to go home. (If you know the commercial, send it to me). In reality fixing a street sign probably breaks a law, but the attitude is perfect (not the buy-more-tools message). Find the problem, and think about the best solution, and try to fix it.
Go to change.gov. Read it and carefully consider the plans put forward there. Do you like the plans? If so, consider whether there is anything that you can do to possibly make them successful. If not, consider what you would've wanted, the details for your plan, and implement it. The government is certainly not going to interfere with your constructive plans. Prove their plans wrong, and your plans better. It's a win-win situation. But most of all, get involved.
American life is not a spectator sport.