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I challenge you

By
August 23, 2007

It is my opinion that Americans complain too much and do too little about their own life in general and about politics specifically. It is understandable why we complain so much, less clear why we do so little. As a nation, we hardly even get out fat butts out of the chair one day every other year to vote. Yet we expect that by some miracle they do something right for a change and solve our problems. Insanity is too kind a word for our syndrome.

So here is my challenge: Take on a discernible, measurable project at some level of the world you live in and follow through on it until you get a result, even if imperfect, or die trying. I did that in the city I live in, a small city of around 36,000 so I have an advantage over those in larger metro areas, I concede. I also suggest that it is still possible for each and every person to make a difference in some corner of the world we live in.

My project is a change in political campaign finance laws in my city to make elections more open, transparent and easier for the average person to be a candidate. I have been speaking out at city council meetings, formed a mail list, write articles for the local online newspaper and formed a common cause with one council member on this issue. This past Monday the Council passed a measure setting up a citizen board to study and recommend changes to the city’s campaign laws.

The result of this study may not be to my liking, but that is less consequential than the fact that the city will now be discussing these issues openly. This is not a personal accomplishment on my part in that I merely gave voice to the growling, complaining and griping that had existed underground all along. But I gave voice not as a complaint but as a request for action. Not only did I provide a suggested solution but I was persistent.

I believe those are the two ingredients that are required for anyone to make a difference. Your results may vary, but I am urging you to formulate your own plan and then follow through, follow through, and follow through.

If not you, who? If you aren’t willing to take something on as a personal project, why do you get a pass and expect someone else to do something? If you can see the issue clearly enough to have a complaint then you are needed to help arrive at a solution. You may be one of those Americans who have been complaining over and over expecting a result other than the one you have gotten. Isn’t that either a form of insanity – or just plain laziness?

Of course you may have circumstances that are more daunting, less time, energy, or whatever. Fine, pick a smaller issue. Pick something that you have a passion for, something you care about enough to endure lots of time, people who just don’t get it, family or friends who do not support your efforts, the list goes on. So what? Are you committed to making a difference or to being comfortable, or popular, or whatever stands in the way?

So there is my challenge. I would love to hear your reports about your projects, how they are going and your suggestions for success.

11 Responses to I challenge you

  1. pollchecker

    August 23, 2007 at 7:54 am

    People are too lazy, too ignorant, too selfish, too preoccupied, TOO ENTITLED to care.

    It is easier to spout slogans like “Support our troops” than to do anything about it.

    Even when someone stands up and does something constructive, people don’t care. It just takes too much energy to care.

    Why do I say this? Because I am the creator of the Iraq Memorial Quilt (www.iraqmemorialquilt.com). I thought the country cared about the vets but the truth is they really don’t. And the lack of support for something done in support of the troops is pititful. In fact I’ve considered burning it. I’ve got $5 that says people who couldn’t be bothered to look at the faces on the quilt would be up in arms.

    The country just doesn’t care. We live in the midst of a bunch of whiners and complainers who can’t be bothered to pay attention or participate. If they can’t be bothered to click on a link, they can’t be bothered to vote.

  2. bryan mcclellan

    August 23, 2007 at 8:14 am

    Please don’t burn it,Doug will give you my contact info and I’ll send you a contribution.First I’ve heard of your effort,be proud ,and don’t lose faith,we are out here.

  3. www.nazilieskill.us

    August 23, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    Blame the citizen for the fact that our whole establishment is impossible to do much about, unless you belong to the mafia. The best thing any citizen can do is put signs in their car windows saying such things as: “Bush filth did 911 to steal millions” or “Republicans are bad cops and Democrats are good cops”. “Religion is an allergic reaction to silence.” That let’s other people know that they aren’t alone. Comfort the Afflicted and Afflict the Comfortable.

    John Hanks, Laramie, Wyoming

  4. DejaVuAllOver

    August 23, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    Americans right now basically fall into two categories: Judeo-Christian Zionist Capitalist Right Wingers and Joe Average Worker-Bee Liberals. (I use the word “liberal” in it’s true meaning from the French Labor Movement of the 1850’s; someone who supports “liberal” rights for the working class) Both groups are VERY passionate, however. The first group is fighting feverishly to protect its entitlements, while the second group is so overwhelmed at the evil that’s befallen this country, courtesy of first group, that it doesn’t know where to start.

    But don’t worry, folks. Nature or nature’s God has this all figured out. World War III will wipe out enough people to fix some of these problems for a while.

  5. Sandra Price

    August 23, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    Well Phil, my project for the last 5 years is to work with Death with Dignity in Arizona and allow all people to have and maintain their choice of when, where and how they choose to die. This would be much like the state of Oregon has on their books. At this time, a Phoenix family has allowed a member of their family to take the magic pill, prescribed by a doctor and it allower her to die as she pleased.

    We are all being called in to help the family get through what they felt their family member wanted. I spent many years in California with the Death with Dignity group and stood on street corners at many farmer’s markets getting signatures. We got it on the ballot twice but the churches came out in fury about allowing this choice.

    When I moved to Lake Havasu City I joined up and went thought the Hospice training as I knew about how terminal patients wanted their last days to be comfortable and filled with love.

    Christians do not like this plan and for as long as I can remember have threatened me for my working with these terminal patients. I remember back in 2000 when a poster from Reader Rant called my Hospice trainer and told her I was The Daughter of Lucifer.

    It has been a 25 year project for me and I will not stop working for the end of life choices until I’m without breathe myself.

    Does this qualify me as a challenger?

  6. Phil Hoskins

    August 23, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    Sandy, you are not only a challenger but a leader. I love hearing about what people actually DO much more than their opinion about what others should do.

  7. bryan mcclellan

    August 23, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    Hello Phil: I took a job as an apprentice instructor at night in the trades (Adult division)six years ago.Granted I am compensated well but money pales when I see an 18 yr.old high school graduate smile in delight when he masters the mysterious world of fractions and how to read a tape measure.Our kids today are coming out of our schools poorly equipped to join the blue collar work force and we provide additional skills education(Journeymen programs) for those not suited (either academically or financially) for college.The two most glaring deficiencies are math skills and good work ethic which are the real building blocks of a prosperous future.Part of my impetus to take the job stemmed from the lack of people with entry level skills in the trades in my area.You just can’t find good help these days and being self employed,one is always looking for talented people to employ.I am alas, getting to old to work as hard as I used to.We proudly proclaim that ours is The Other Four Year Degree and on average graduate 300 individuals per year,(male and female)trades and nursing,early child development and GED certification, a real success story that I am very proud to be a small part of.To me an educated and gainfully employed public with a fairly defined future make for a better voting population as they will have a viable stake in the future of their families and our country.Nothing pains me more than the hang dog look of one whose job has been outsourced and they have to start over again by learning a new skill,or the fresh faced youth who just wants a chance ,but has no experience.This is my yoke,and my challenge which I freely accept.I also shout to the roof tops to any and all who will listen to become involved in the political process,especially voting,it’s a duty and a right all should exercise.

  8. Phil Hoskins

    August 24, 2007 at 3:25 am

    Good on you … that is a wonderful story.

  9. Richard94611

    August 23, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    Phil Hoskins is correct that we are a nation of complainers. What surprised me, however, was that when the past two elections were stolen, the American people didn’t rise up and fill all the streets with protest.

    Nevertheless, here are my projects: 1) At the age of 69 I am becoming a substitute teacher in an inner city high school with the intention not only of teaching students well, but also of “saving” a few who think they have no chance in life by helping push them down a road to a better life. 2) Supplying educational materials, communication and hope to two different inmates presently incarcerated, one in California and one in New York.

    I’ll keep at these projects until I’m reduced to sitting in a wheelchair and drooling my way through the day. They don’t seem to me to be such a bad way to complete one’s life.

  10. Phil Hoskins

    August 24, 2007 at 3:27 am

    Good for you, you have one year on me and I am so proud of each of you.

  11. CheckerboardStrangler

    August 27, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    My HOA has finally caved on the solar issue after being subjected to a series of informative presentations on the effect of energy saving devices on property values and a complementary series that explored the projected drop in property values on homes saddled with utility costs that come close to the monthly mortgage payment.

    Texas is one of the last states to pass a “solar rights law” and the last I heard was that the legislature was on the brink of doing so in the most recent session.

    I closed the last series of talks by stating that it was no longer a question of “if but when” and used the “satellite dish” controversies of the 1980’s as an example where homeowner associations were attempting to prohibit backyard dishes until an FCC ruling finally barred them from doing so across the board.
    I likened the prohibition against solar installations to the end game where federal energy regulations would eventually trump HOA prohibitions.

    Sometimes it just takes more patience than anything else…my efforts the first two years went largely ignored.

    JeffH in Occupied TX