I spent most of my childhood, growing up in a small town in Florida.
When I was a kid…
- We played outside.
- We played outside without our parents having to watch us.
- We played Cowboys and Indians, Cops and Robbers or War. (and never really thought about actually owning a gun!)
- We dug in the dirt.
- We made forts and hideouts on empty lots with brush and debris.
- We rode bicycles for hours. (Without helmets.)
- We sometimes built a fire and slept in a tent in the backyard.
- We were often barefoot.
- For special entertainment, we played outside at our cousins’ houses.
When I was a kid…
- We had daily chores like dusting and washing dishes.
- We read books. My sister and I checking out 20 books at a time from the library.
- We learned how to grow vegetables in a garden.
- We saved our allowance all year so we could buy Christmas presents for our family.
- If we wanted candy or ice cream, we picked up pop bottles and cashed them in for their deposit at the nearby convenience store.
- We did our homework without being told. (And it actually affected our grades.)
When I was a kid…
- If we had fast food it was a special occasion. A sit down restaurant was an event.
- We watched television less than 3 hours a day.
- When we wanted to look something up, we used the encyclopedia.
- Telephones had cords and were only used for important (short) conversations.
- We wrote letters and mailed cards for birthdays and holidays.
- Dessert was a rare treat not a daily source of nutrition.
- We drank water from the tap (or even from the hose). We had pop/soda no more than once a week.
- Other than going to the grocery, shopping was only something you did for school clothes and at Christmas.
- If there was something you really wanted, it didn’t magically show up at the end of the day. If you were lucky in might show up under the Christmas tree.
- We didn’t hang out at the mall or see all the current movies. (I can count the movies I saw growing up on my fingers.)
- We learned to draw, write, and made and built things with our hands.
- We knew how to use our imaginations.
When I was a kid…
- We didn’t have computers, or Internet, or Smart Phones or cable TV.
- If we wanted to communicate, we opened our mouths.
- Safety was something you did, not a government mandate.
- Teachers weren’t babysitters, they were actually allowed to teach class.
- We didn’t always lock our doors.
- Black Friday didn’t start in July.
When I was a kid…
- We loved our country and believed in the American Dream.
- Politicians were intelligent and respected– they were our heroes.
- Congress did something.
- We weren’t afraid of Police. They were there to help us.
- Guns were only used by soldiers, police and hunters.
- Most families we knew only had one working parent, with one job and they were able to live comfortably.
- We were taught honesty and hard work were the keys to success.
- We thought people were just people regardless of color, class or religion.
- You could believe what you heard on the news.
- Everyone wasn’t out to get you.
Then we grew up…
And everything changed.
There is a phenomenon occurring in this country in the form of two candidates: Donald J. Trump and Bernie Sanders. They are calling for a revolution. Many people are jumping on board the train without any real idea where they’re going or where they’ll end up. The Trump camp wants to “make America great again” by basically dragging us back in the past. The Sanders camp wants to push us forward into the unknown. Both candidates have very different messages. Nonetheless, their platforms or sound bytes are igniting an America that has long sat indifferent and unmoved.
I hope a lot of people will read on and hear what I have to say. I’m not going to intentionally bash either candidate– but I do hope you’ll consider some of what I’m hoping to express.
What are the driving motivations and emotions behind all this hysteria in this election cycle?
People are frustrated and angry. People don’t trust the government or the people running it. People are searching– but for what?
Hope and change.
Recognize the irony here? This was President Obama’s campaign platform. Most everyone weighing in will say that he has failed, at least on some level. The Republicans, besides being against the Affordable Care Act, will say that Obama has led the economy off the deep end– even though the numbers prove that it (the economy) is in much better shape than it was when he took office in 2008. The Democrats will say that his policies and contributions have not gone far enough. The obvious fact, that both sides will agree on, is that he has been unable to unite the parties and inspire them to work together. The underlying fact– Congress is not doing it’s job and merely electing a new President is not likely to change that.
“…. and to the Republic for which it stands….”
At this point, I need to remind everyone that America is a Republic, not a Democracy. What does that mean? In a Democracy, citizens directly vote on laws. In a Republic, as in the United States, we elect representatives to pass laws for us.
With the exception of often highly scrutinized Executive Orders, the President can’t actually make laws or enforce policy. Congress does that…. or at least that is what we elect them to do. If they fail and we continue to re-elect them? Isn’t it our own fault?
Our Constitution wisely established three separate (but equal) branches of government to protect and represent all of us: Executive, Legislative and Judicial.
So why does it appear that the American people ignore all but the Presidential race when it comes to voicing their expectations? Why do Americans hold the President accountable but not the equally powerful representatives they elect?
Going to the Dogs
Okay, now bear with me here….
I just finished a class in Dog Emotion and Cognition. The parallels in understanding human development and interactions are uncanny. Cognition is made up of multiple levels including: memorization, understanding and application. These are affected by experience, environment and genetics among other things. No two dogs, even of the same breed, have the exact same cognitive abilities. So in order to train a dog or change it’s behavior you have to first understand how the dog thinks and processes things. Once you understand, you can adapt your training method to achieve the desired result. If you are only partially successful, you may have to start back at the beginning and try a slightly different approach.
Learn. Adapt. Repeat.
Learning and behavior in people can be looked at in the same way. Every person is different in how they learn, process and experience things. The nationwide failure of our education system is that we’ve developed a strict style of learning that does not nurture or support people in their individual, cognitive strengths. No person is unable to learn. They may just need to be taught differently. When a teacher is given the latitude to explore and find a student’s strengths– only then can they effectively teach.
Learn. Adapt. Repeat.
How does any of this apply to the election?
Learn. Whether you are Conservative, Liberal or Progressive you first need to understand what it is that needs to change. Settling on concerns such as better pay, a more stable economy or national security are not enough. You need to understand why and how the current situation exists and have some idea of how to correct it.
Voting for a candidate that makes campaign promises you agree with isn’t enough. People will say anything to get elected. They may even believe what they say. Do they have an actual plan to make it happen? (Trump openly acknowledges he has repeatedly taken advantage of the system he now says he will change. Sanders has been a member of Congress for 23 years and refers to the system as broken but say he will fix it.)
Adapt. Once you are well informed, then you can take action.
Every piece of legislation considered and/or passed, affects or is affected by every other law that already exists; either directly or indirectly.
Change requires action. Some action may correct one problem while creating another. The goal of government is suppose to be to establish and defend a fair, level playing field; giving every American the chance to be successful in their own right.
Repeat. When new problems arise– they need to be corrected. When loopholes are exposed and exploited– they need to be repaired and filled. Sometimes policies and laws should be repealed or re-written instead of piling on new ones to further complicate the process. This isn’t what normally happens. One inadequate law- spawns four more inadequate laws- which spawns twelve more inadequate laws. What’s worse? Many laws are passed and then aren’t enforced. Complicating our legal system only ends up hurting those it is supposed to protect.
Sometimes the political process works and sometimes it doesn’t. It doesn’t get fixed when no one is trying.
Evolution is the Revolution
Everything evolves. Nothing stays the same whether we actively seek change or sit by uninvolved and dispassionate.
In order for change to happen– it must happen on every level.
In order for change to happen– It must start at the ground level.
Change starts with you.
If you really want a revolution, you have to be an active part of that revolution. Be informed. Make your voice heard. Your elected officials need to be held accountable.
No candidate will enact change on their own and simply voting is not enough. You have to be an active part of the process. You have to be aggressive and can’t become apathetic. Otherwise, you’re just passing the buck.