As promised, here is part 2 of my discourse/rant. The primary point I was trying to make yesterday, upon which I intend to build today, is that, we, as citizens, are supposed to be active and participative in our democracy for it to flourish. To do this, we must be informed, which, frankly, is hard work. It is tedious to listen to the shouting on both sides of the aisle. It is taxing to track down source information, absorb it and understand it. It is difficult to be engaged when so many other things are going on in each of our lives. I stated yesterday that we all need to read the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, etc. That is not an easy assignment. It requires time and energy, and, frankly, our citizenry, as a whole, has neither the inclination, nor will to do hard things. Sure, there are exceptions to that rule, but take a look around you. How many people do you know who actually have read the Constitution? How many people do you know can even name the three branches of government?
Jay Leno used to do a bit called “Jay Walking” where he would ask people on the street questions that they should know the answers to and see what answers he’d get. This wasn’t jeopardy, rather, more like Family Feud in its difficulty. The answers were funny, yet at the same time, alarming because of the insight they gave on the average American’s understanding of historical and current events. For every program like “No Child Left Behind” we have jurors, like the one in the Sen. Menendez corruption trial who asked the judge what a “Senator” is. It’s not an educational issue, it’s not a knowledge transfer issue, it is a motivation issue. Unfortunately, what happens more often that not is that a large group of the country gets dissatisfied and votes out of a protest rather than an understanding of the issues. That is how revolutions tend to happen. People want change, but also want to be led. If the leader is fundamentally good, the change is generally good, but in many, many cases the leader tends to be a tad despotic. Thankfully, our founding fathers, for all their faults and weaknesses, foresaw such an issue and divided power enough between the branches so as to protect the whole. Granted, this separation has been slowly and methodically under attack and weakened over the past several decades, but it still has endured to this day.
So, what can we do? First, we have to do the work to become informed ourselves. This is not a one-shot deal, but a concerted effort to stay on top of what is going on and having the discernment to understand it within the context of history and human nature. Again, we must first do that hard work ourselves. Second, we have to look for, understand and confront our biases as we seek to understand what we are reading and seeing. We all have biases. Bias isn’t good or bad, it just is. It is part of who we are, which means that we will always have a little bit of a skewed understanding. That’s okay, just realize it and be open to the idea that you may have a bias and be willing to accept new positions if they are revealed to be right and true. Third, challenge those in your circle to do the same things. Change doesn’t happen in broad sweeps, it happens moment by moment, face to face. I liken it to the Grand Canyon. Just remember, when it all started it was just a small riverbed, but through time and consistency it became what it is today.
Let me leave you with this, and I apologize if it causes you to lose sleep, but it probably should a little bit. One of my coauthors sent out a link to a game that has been released in China that incorporates social media, purchasing, etc., to award a score like a credit score for how good of a citizen one is. The link is here. Go ahead and watch it and then come back. We have the privilege, fortune and honor to live in a free society. One that was crafted by our forefathers to endure and that has been paid for time and again in the sacrifice of the citizenry, both in and out of the military. For my military brethren and their families, thank you for your service and your sacrifice. We have the freedom to choose how participative we want to be because of these ideals and their sacrifice. We owe it to them and to those who came before and will come after to voluntarily be “an informed citizenry”.
Happy Veterans Day to my fellow coauthors and have a great weekend, everyone.