Friday, February 25, 2011

Putting my money where my mouth is

I am tired of words. I am tired of the talk shows and talking heads. It is time that action is taken. Not just by those that are always involved, but those that aren't.

To put my money where my mouth is, I went to http://www.nccs.net, the National Center for Constitutional Studies, and purchased 100 Pocket Constitutions for $30. They arrived yesterday and I gave out 27. My wife thinks I'm nuts, on my way to becoming a whackado. But really, why not? What is wrong with proselytizing the meaningful words that founded this country and have allowed it to reach its greatness? We, the United States, did not reach this point by accident. We have achieved our place in the world, our place in history, through the blood of the average men and women who have done above average things.

I handed out most of them to fellow students at IPFW in Warsaw. All of my classmates know that I am a staunch Conservative. I believe in less government, personal accountability and the potential of everyone to succeed or fail on their own. I did not however mention any of this when handing out our Constitution. I simply smiled and said "I have something for you".

Nearly all thanked me. I asked that they promise to read it. That was it. I didn't express my views or try to persuade them in any way. When they asked why I was giving them away I simply told them that I spent 25 years defending it, and was ashamed at the number of Americans that had forgotten what it says. When pushed for an opinion, I told them to read it, and form their own opinion.

Once I gave them out, I had a level of rapport. Three conversations came from my "gifts".

First, the one push-back I received was from a couple of former Marines in class with me. Since I'm a dogface Soldier, we're constantly giving each other a hard time, so they may have been yanking my chain. They simply told me that they thought it was silly, what I was doing. They chuckled when I reminded them that I had just given them the document they had sworn to support and defend. When they blew that off, I called them ex-Marines...a big no-no. They finally agreed with my point.

Another conversation was with an older student (like me). She is studying to complete a nurse's certification so that she can make more money. The two of us started speaking about the union stuff going on in Wisconsin and Indianapolis, and politics in general (she broached the subject). She mentioned that she was considering moving to Indianapolis since she could actually make more, without the additional certification (she was stressing over an exam!). I told her that she just proved my point about unions and individual responsibility. She has a choice to make. Stay in Warsaw, complete her education, or move to Indy. Choices that she has, to determine the path she wants to travel. Regardless of what she chooses, she is being proactive and taking responsibility for her life...she is not waiting on a handout, a bailout, or some other government "program" to make her decision for her.

The final conversation I had was with an 18 year-old girl who mentioned how much she enjoyed her government class in high school. Her teacher tied their lessons into current events for context. She lamented that she wished she could have a class like that every day. I told her she can! She had never thought about watching the news or reading the papers. She is working towards a degree in fashion merchandising, and as I sit behind her, I see her surfing the Net, checking out fashion websites. When I suggested she surf some news sites, it was like a lightbulb went on. It sounds silly, too easy, but for some people, especially young adults, they don't look at it this way. They don't realize that decisions made in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C. have an effect on their lives. They don't see the connection between what happens in Wisconsin affecting their lives down the road, as other states, and potentially the federal government, learn from Wisconsin and adopt new policies accordingly.

This final conversation was by far the most exciting for me. She said that knowing what was going on, getting involved and voting were as important as starting her retirement savings early. It pays off more down the road. An apt analogy in my opinion.

If out of the 100 Pocket Constitutions I give away, only one person starts paying attention, it will be worth the $30 spent. If I only convince one American that we live in the greatest country on earth, not by accident, but by us, We the People, getting involved, I will consider it a success.

Although I am Conservative, my goal through this experiment is not to convert anyone to my way of thinking. It is simply to get people to think. Period. One person can make a difference. Can you?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Please, think before you post.

Just yesterday, a family member of mine posted on Facebook how the GOP needed someone better than Trump or Palin. Of course she was referring to their appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC.

In my comment to her post, I asked what specific issue she had with Palin. One of her other FB friends and I started a back-and-forth about politics in general. One of her friends agreed with my post that too many people dislike Sarah Palin, but when pushed, cannot give a reason why.

My family member finally deleted her initial comment, and thus all of the posts saying that she was just trying to be funny. How funny is it to throw something derogatory out there, without even a generalization as to why you don't like a potential candidate, and then delete it when challenged?

Have we become such a non-thinking society that we cannot have a civil discourse about issues? "Being funny" has become, it appears to me, the news source of choice for a lot of Americans. From Bill Maher, to Colbert, it seems that so many young people take what they hear at face value without any thought at all.

Admittedly, I watch FOX News a lot. I also tune in to CNN and MSNBC to see how they are reporting similar issues. More importantly, I try to ask myself if what I've heard is accurate and balanced. If it doesn't pass the smell test, then I research it on my own.

The bottom line frustration for me is this: If you are going to disparage a person, policy, or action, don't share it with me unless you are prepared to discuss it, and in many cases, back it up with facts or examples. Disliking someone or something because it is in vogue holds no merit. It is symptomatic of the careless way many express their views, which when challenged, we learn usually equates to them not having a view at all. By throwing out vague, unsubstantiated comments on FB or other social media, demonstrates an ignorance and naivete that, unfortunatly, permeates our society. Everyone is entitled to [their] own opinion, but not [their] own facts (Daniel Patrick Moynihan).