"A Republic, madam, if you can keep it."
As you all should know, I'm an American teenager. I grew up in a family very vocal about their political opinions. I grew up in a town very expressive of their political opinions, as well as very active in many different causes I still hold dear. Because of this, I myself am incredibly opinionated when it comes to government, human rights, politics and other related topics.
And, if you're like any other American, you love the ideals America was founded on but you're not so happy with the government right now. In fact, I can't think of a single American I know who is happy at all with our current government's choices.
Now, I could write a whole page complaining, dissing, and predicting the end of America as we know it. Most days I would. But I realized something important today. Talking about how crappy this country is becoming is useless.
So, I'm going to propose 2 things. First, look at what you like about our government. Me personally?
- The national guard - a home defense and disaster aid.
- Food stamps - I can't count how many years my family would have literally starved without these.
- Freedom of Speech - yes, we still have this for the most part. I have no fear of telling the president exactly what I think about his bank bailouts at the beginning of his term. Therefore, the oppression of expression isn't too bad yet. Use it while you have it.
- Basic safety requirements - for products, cars, foods and medicines. They can't sell us lethal doses of arsenic yet. It could be worse.
- Rape is illegal - in a lot of countries, it's not.
- Child abuse is illegal - even though it's poorly dealt with in my state, there are still some cases where things work out for the better.
- Woman can vote. People of different colors can vote.
- There is a basic education offered to all native-born citizens - No, it's not amazing. I can attest to that, still being in the public school system. But it's better than nothing.
- Freedom of Religion - yes, there's still a lot of persecution, a lot of struggle with this. But for the most part, you can be Buddhist. You can be Christian. You can be Muslim. You can be Wicca. You can be a satanist. You can be pagan. You can be atheist. You can be whatever-the-heck you want to be, with almost no repercussions from the government. Yeah citizens can harass you (which is an issue), but for the most part the government can't.
And do something about it!
- Donate (Starving children? About $1 provides for a meal. How much did you spend on your coffee this morning?)
- Do something to protect the environment (take a shorter shower, walk to work, etc. There's lots you can do for free, let alone for a little money. Think out of the box.)
- Vote. For goodness sakes don't complain about the government when you're not VOTING.
- Protest. Participate in these. Especially in the city, these happen more often than you'd think.
- Spread the word. Publish. Post on your blog. Sign a petition. (see change.org. It really works). Speak up in a way that actually accomplishes something.
- Hold people accountable. Teacher not doing their job? Report them. President not doing his job? Impeach him. They'll be a lot less likely to abuse their power when they know there'll actually be consequences for it. This goes the same for people. Someone commits a crime? Report it. Even if you don't prosecute. Especially in domestic violence, rape and child abuse, the more it's reported, the more the system can do about it.
- Love your neighbor. Think about it this way. How much easier would your life be if your neighbor did the occasional favor for you? Watered your plants, walked your dog, lent you an egg or two? Communities are meant to be like this, but more. We're meant to help each other. How much better would your teenagers life be if they had more than just you to help them succeed in life? How much better would your life be if there was someone there to help you when times got hard?
- Raise your kids to be leaders in change. It's a general rule that your kids will be more amazing than you ever were. So if you were pretty amazing and purposefully raised them to be amazing, think how freaking incredible they could be and what they could accomplish.
- Run for office. Seriously. If you think you can do better, go do it. I would love to see more involvement, even in local offices.
- Propose changes. Propose new laws, solutions, plans for change to whoever can pull it off (your city hall, board of education, senator, etc.) and be persistent. Heck, if you're downright annoying they might even pass it faster.
- Buy local. Our economy kind of sucks right now. Part of that is because all our money goes to foreign companies. And never comes back. Buying local ensures that the money stays local. Buy American. Better yet, buy something made in your city or town.
What are you doing to make your country a better place?
“Megan, there are enough people in this world who complain about things, but not enough people who do anything about them.”