This I Believe

Virginia - Winthrop Harbor, Illinois
Entered on February 19, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

This I believe….

I believe that we, as citizens of the United States of America, possess more promise and more potential for individual power than at any other time in our history. I also believe that many people have no idea the power we could wield if only we decided to become informed active participants. In fact many seem to have forgotten the old adage… “Knowledge IS power”.

Within the last 10 years many sources for news have been placed at the fingertips of most people in our country. With the advent of 24 hour a day TV news channels; personal computers; the internet; and multi-tasking cell phones, we now have access to staggeringly large amounts of both filtered and unfiltered views of our world… What are we doing with all of this information? Very little, it seems. I believe each of us needs to become immersed in current events. I believe we need to search out our own truths by listening to similar AND opposing views on important issues of the day from both laymen and experts, and by doing so reach well thought out, truly informed opinions of our own.

So, how do we decide what is the truth when the information we have access to often seems less than impartial? Who do we trust now that many of the familiar faces of traditional nighttime newscasts have given way to younger, hipper, more “entertaining” sorts? Perhaps most importantly, why did we look to anyone else to tell us what to think anyway??? We, my friends, have become lazy, not realizing how easily freedom can be stripped away. The truth is we live in a country that is both affluent and militarily formidable… enough so that for many decades we have been sheltered from the harsh realities which people from other countries less fortunate are exposed to on a daily basis. September 11, 2001 began to change that for us. Now the cracks in our façade of invincibility are becoming apparent to even the most casual observer, and our weaknesses make us a target.

What can I do about that, you may ask? (And if you’re not asking…frankly, I wish you were…) Well, as I see it, the best way to deal with problems such as the ever deepening distaste for the U.S. from other parts of the world, our failing education and healthcare systems, and our corrupted governmental bodies, doesn’t require any complex strategies. It is really quite simple and bears repeating, we need to do our homework so we know what is REALLY happening in our world…. then ACT upon our beliefs with honesty, integrity and respect. We need to stop assuming we have all of the correct answers, or that our ideologies have any more value than anyone else’s. We need to spend some time and effort helping those truly less fortunate as cheerfully as we do things for ourselves. In short, we need to recreate the sense of honor, integrity, and community that our country possessed 50 years or so ago. If we make these beliefs and actions the cornerstones of our own lives and hold others accountable as well, our world could be a much better place. We can do much more than just lead by example. Once we are very clear about our strongest and most closely held beliefs…we can exert our individual influence with them as our guide. We do this by making our voices heard in elections, by choosing wisely who we do business with, who we invite into our personal lives, and by holding others to the same standards. Such simple actions would and could reverberate through our governments, our schools, our lives, and best of all, our children’s lives, too. With cumulative effects they could change our world for the better, one well-informed person, at a time…