As I began teaching my middle school and high school students one day about the meaning and power of American citizenship, I realized that several of the basic concepts of our government and how it functions the same from bottom to top seemed alien, even to the high schoolers. I had been taught these principles by my parents before I reached fifth grade. As a result, I guided my students back through a quick review and retaught some of these basic concepts and methods, all used successfully in our country (for the most part) for the last 230 plus years. But something else struck me as peculiar.
Many adults have the same naïvety as my students I stand before in my classroom. Of course the reasons for this naïvety should not be oversimplified. However, as is the case with any child on any given day, disabilities or not, they learn how to manipulate situations to meet what their natural, youthful self-centeredness desires. Recognizing this side of human nature, history shows that if this type of attitude and behavior is not modified at an early age, or at least addressed, then the families of the United States of America grow and nurture adults with firmly learned compounded narrow-mindedness; youthful egotists in adult bodies if you will. Two integral components of a productive, proactive American adult is neglected: ownership and collaboration. How often do you hear these two simple terms in politics? More to the point, how often do you hear the terms and their real meaning during Presidential election years?
I am constantly baffled by American citizens whining incessantly about the current President and or his political party. In just about any public place or on any public forum or social media, you can always find jabs and derogatory remarks about one man, or one political ideal screwing up this country. Sadly, I hear this from my middle and high school students just as much! Where on earth are they hearing or being taught this annoying whining about one man or one ideal? I promise you this, not in my classroom and I hope not in any publicly funded classroom! By the way, American people are not ruled, governed, or enslaved by or to one man. It has thankfully been this way for yes, 235 something years. If the American public are proactive in their families, communities, states, and federal government — as has been given to them freely according to our Constitution — and proactive in self-ownership of their elected officials, then the reality is this: YOU are the one to whine about.
Also, if you find yourself in the “minority” of American laws and policies, then once again our system of government freely provides to you the methods of COLLABORATION within your community, state, and federal groups to begin your revolution of change. That is exactly how our nation’s forefathers constructed our government in the 1700’s and setting it up the same for you today.
Yet, do not be fooled into thinking that “revolutionary change” is in any way done by “THEM“. On the contrary, it is you who must be actively or proactively involved. You must sacrifice your own time and efforts to gain the change you seek. It is you who must learn to be a master of collaboration and diplomacy, not “them“. If you are truly convicted about your policies and ideology, then YOU become the next Thomas Jefferson, or Abraham Lincoln, or Martin Luther King, Jr. And I, as your equal, will first educate myself thoroughly on your dream of change, and if it coincides with my ideals, then perhaps together we can collaborate and take ownership of our social system as it was meant to be in the first place, and make those changes happen.
However, allow me to point out that before you can create a better America, or a better state or community, you must first have your own house and family in good, happy working order. The cliché “Those who can be trusted with the little things, can be trusted with the greater things” is never more true in this case. What is taught, nurtured, and matured in the home will either add to or subtract from our country. More precisely, if you were taught the basic principles of ownership, collaboration (teamwork), understanding, and tolerance for diversity, then your chances of making America better are profoundly excellent. If not, then you will find yourself always swimming upstream with no one to aid you, no matter how much you whine aloud.
President Obama, or the political party he affiliates himself, have never been the entire problem America faces today. Americans are sleeping in the very bed they have made for themselves. Whether it is a lack of principles, education, family values, collaboration, or whatever your slogan, take ownership America for your inactivity in local, state, and federal government, or your shortcomings of collaboration, understanding, and intolerance. But quit blaming “them”. Quit blaming one man. Pointing fingers at opposing political officials only demonstrates a severe lack of collaboration and ownership. Our governing officials, laws and policies are only a mirror of not only each American citizen’s voice, but equally our societal depth, from our own family right up to our federal officials.
President Obama, proudly take your seat. It isn’t your lack of leadership that has America in this predicament. It is each of us citizens, on every level; so…will the REAL America please standup, act collaboratively, and take ownership of your country’s good and bad. Our current economic and societal woes are “…for the people, BY the people“. It does not say by one man.
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Extremely well said! Bravo. Lucky kids to have you for their teacher, and I have a feeling they’ll remember what you tell them about these things, long after they have forgotten some of the other things…
Thank you Carol for your kind words and consistent reading of my blogs/articles. Perhaps when I have some free time (around Xmas break?) I can catch up on yours & others! 🙂
“Good Government starts in your own family.” Very Good. I like that and it’s so true.
Walter Reuther the labor leader was raised in a family that the father compelled them to discus things at the dinner table every night. Not trivial things, but real things. Frequently they argued and fought but they also listened, learned, and respected one another.
My own kids don’t know thoroughly the “Robert’s Rules of Order” but they know what book it is on the shelf and they know “who has the floor” in our discussions. They also know history and government and have their own views(which may not match Dad’s views) about things. Thanks
Hello informationforager! Welcome back! We’ve been QUIET busy, eh? I LOVE that idea around the dinner table! What a wise giving father Mr. Reuther — and I know yourself included — was to his family! The art of well-informed collaboration & diplomacy is hopefully NOT a dying art, even in families.
i was tought my manners and much more around our family table if you pass on to your kids the good you were told as a child then it carrys on into future generations xxjen
Thank you jennygoth for stopping by. You’re right, as little sponges, malliable & curious, our environment plays heavily on our near future core values & traits; which in turn either gives us the right tools for good/great citizenship…or the WRONG tools for frustration, anti-socialism, emotional instability, & the rest of those learned behaviors from childhood.
Please stop by again. 🙂