The Patriot Newspaper is pleased to publish the first in a series of guest essays called the Purple Patriot Project. The Project encourages citizens to participate, to engage in conversation, and to find solutions.
by Christine Anderson
Our president is taking his second term message on the road.
In A People's History of the United States, activist and historian Howard Zinn wrote about the courage and convictions of average people that changed our country’s story.
Our president and this election have done that in many ways.
But if we want to be patriots, it’s time we evaluate our allegiances and ask Congress to do the same.
What does he need from us?
If you voted in the presidential election, you might think, as I did, that “my job is done.” We’ve been in the trenches of this recession: the loss of equity in our homes, joblessness, and the repayment of student loans –you know the list.
But after the Inaugural Address and the State of the Union speech, did you get the feeling that you were asked to contribute something more? maybe get some work done? make things better?
When John F. Kennedy asked what we could do for our country and beyond (Peace Corps)—or when military drafts have been answered, or a volunteer Army fulfilled, people of all ages met those challenges. I believe we are also asked to respond now with greater citizenship: to be more engaged and informed—and to think and express ourselves better. Just as we need to educate ourselves through schooling and training for better jobs—maybe we also need to attend boot camp to become more than simply voters.
We can’t individually solve our country’s thorny issues. But we can take responsibility for what we think—and how we say it—to become citizens who will be heard. Discussion that can go the distance requires educated foot soldiers who can tell our representatives in Washington what we expect from them: less sniping and more willing debate. And results.
Sound like a lot of work? Maybe. But it could be a whole lot of fun. And the Internet allows all of us to become better informed, depending on how we use it.
First. Take your own patriotic pulse: Ask yourself: Am I an individual first and a citizen second? Am I conservative, liberal, in between? Do I regard self-reliance, community, or both as my core values? In school, what teacher inspired me? In what was I encouraged by a relative or friend? You might start right there. What did they teach you? What matters most? Make the list.
Sit quietly with these questions: What are my passions, and what are my biases? If I could support or create something, what would it be? Jobs? A push for tax reform? A small business or non-profit? If I own a gun or guns, can I give up my position on gun control in favor of discussion about gun safety? Will I use those words?
Tune out. Try a media fast. Reduce the frenzy of too much information. Re-introduce clarity. Watch news that discusses issues fully. Seek opinions and their opposites. Avoid sensationalized reporting. Search for the most trusted reporting on the web.
Talk nice. Your senators and reps are inundated too with news and Twitter feeds, emails and spam 24 hours a day. My suggestion? Don’t rant. Being polite however, they and their staff suggest the following: Email or write your concerns and sign your name. If you do forward something, however, carefully consider its source so that it is representing your true position and add your ID/identifier. And most important, if you send letters which require answers, be sure you are writing to the person who actually represents you.
Put your boots on.
Get educated about today’s issues. Join us in the conversation. Suggest solutions. Become engaged. Because to be better citizens—and new patriots—we need to kick things up a notch.