It isn't very often that I stop to think about how much good is happening in my life, and I am thankful that yesterday was a moment to stop and remind myself that there is a lot of good going on. Yesterday, my Mom was thankful that all of her children, and grandchildren, had jobs. In a way this is almost a sad thing to thankful for, but it is a true reflection of the times. Justin and I both have good jobs that have good benefits and some security. The sheer fact that I get to teach is a plus. There are folks who went through my program that didn't ever find that teaching job, and they were better teachers than I am. In this current economy, I have encountered so many people who are literally hanging on by a thread, and yet politicians on both sides of the aisle continue to bicker over idiotic details in order to pander to their extreme right or left wing pundits.
The current economic climate has led to a political climate that I find exhausting, poisonous, and disturbing. As someone who makes a living teaching 14 year olds about how our government works and what it means to be a citizen, I am often embarrassed by what the adults demonstrate as citizenship to them. Have we really become a country that is unable to enter into a respectful political debate that is based on fact on mannerly discourse? Are we really to going to villanize those who vote the opposite of us? Or determine that because someone has a different belief system from ours that they are uneducated or too educated?
In light of the holiday season, can we just take a moment and recognize that we are all people who are deserving of common courtesy and respect? Can we refuse support those who thrive on creating a negative debate based on half truths and character slanders? Can we enter into honest discussions about issues that effect us all? May I suggest that each person who is planning on voting, take a minute and read the Constitution?
Understanding the powers of each branch, the five purposes of government, and what the Constitution actually says is key to being an informed citizen. It makes spotting propaganda much easier. Speaking of propaganda, can we turn off the major news sources? Can we refuse to listen to those who make a living by sensationalizing mundane facts? With the spirit of the holiday season, which is sure to be followed by an obnoxious and overbearing Presidential race, find someone who you know has the opposite political beliefs as you do and offer to listen. Really listen, ask them to really listen to you. Look for what you have in common. You both want the regular guy to be supported, you are both concerned about the power of corporations, maybe you have different solutions, but you aren't that different.
I am not asking for a dyed in the wool dem to become a tea party member or vice versa, but I am asking for us to collectively refuse to buy into this idea that because we vote differently we must be enemies. I want my students, and my future child, to grow up in country where we elect officials because we truly understand what they stand for and who they are. I want those who are fear mongers and hate spreaders to suddenly become unpopular. I want common citizens to have honest discussions about what their communities need and hold their reps responsible for it. When we are busy yelling at one another, it becomes so much easier for them to not serve the people. Please, let's reclaim our country by reclaiming our sanity.