February 25, 2017

To Be An American Citizen…

(reposted from facebook, the text below this box is exactly the same as the text within it)

I imagine there is a certain, simple, satisfaction in not actually having an argument or an awareness of facts; but rather simply blurting out the first thing that comes to your mind, or the most recent thing you’ve heard.

I cannot fathom putting partisan orthodoxy or talking points above intellect, logic or reason. However, I watch people (intelligent people) from both (all) sides of the political spectrum do it every single day.

It seems “having an answer” (or, in most cases, simply a retort) is all that matters. Validating that it’s a reasonable response often isn’t part of the equation.

As listeners, more and more, we passively ignore (therefore tacitly accepting) this behavior; failing to engage in conflict with conjecture, thereby further weakening the resolve of reality.

what is an american

A government “of the people, by the people, for the people” requires an educated and engaged populous. Democracy does not (cannot) support a race to ignorance. Thomas Jefferson, when addressing the need for a literate electorate, said that – given the choice between a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government – “I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

If you favor our form of government, our freedoms, our open marketplaces then the time is now to fortify the failing foundations of that framework. Put away your partisan talking points, your canned retorts, and your simplistic meme’s, and actively engage others who don’t do the same.

Living as an American in the United States was, by design, intended to be advanced citizenry; not for the lazy or feint of heart.

No matter how comforting or safe it may feel, you simply cannot be ambivalent and a patriotic citizen of this country at the same time. They are mutually exclusive conditions. The question is, which one are you going to be?

September 30, 2015

Tom Brady, Donald Trump, and Civic Responsibility (this may be the only place you can see those three things linked together)

Tom Brady – in an “obvious” attempt to personify the issues we are having as a nation – said the following in a recent interview regarding whether or not he would be voting for his friend Donald Trump:

brady trump

“One way or the other, it’s so far away from when the election will be. And whatever I vote is going to be my own personal choice based on how I feel. I don’t even know what the issues are. I haven’t paid attention to politics in a long time. It’s actually not something that I really even enjoy. It’s way off my radar.”

While I (strongly) agree with Tom, that his vote should be his own personal choice, what concerns me is the “it’s actually not something that I really even enjoy” sentence.

Politics, the governing of our country, and the preservation of our way of life are not things that were ever meant for anyone’s personal enjoyment. Paying my taxes is “actually not something that I really even enjoy” but I still do it… because it is my responsibility. Fighting (and in many cases dying) across the Pacific, or in Europe in a world war was “actually not something troops really even enjoyed”… but they still did it… because it was their responsibility. Similarly, casting intelligent, informed votes isn’t “fun” … it is your responsibility as a citizen.

Upon first glance it may seem strange to draw a parallel between people laying down their lives in war and folks acting a bit cavalier about how they vote. However, when you look at why those people gave their lives (or pay their taxes), and you consider that having a democratic form of government was, to many of them, worth dying for… how can you not conclude it is critically important to take that responsibility seriously.

I know it’s dry, I know it’s frustrating, I know it does not stand up to the entertainment test like Game of Thrones (or Downton Abby, or Desperate Housewives, or whatever floats your boat), but I don’t care (and neither should you)… it’s your job. Watch a newscast, read the paper, watch the debates, know what you are talking about and vote accordingly.

If you don’t want to… if advanced citizenry isn’t your thing… there are plenty of dictatorships, monarchy’s, and other non-representative forms of government that would love to have you obliviously marching to the beat of their drum.

July 10, 2013

This is why we can’t (or shouldn’t) have nice things…

Filed under: Environment,Observations,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — sbj @ 10:26 pm

A few weeks ago I took (public) umbrage with the faux-fact based facebook post:

My issue with it was (and remains) the distorted use of facts taken out of context (not to mention the poor methodology and small sample size of the actual study cited). Rearing it’s face again, the over simplification and reduction to a few choice, targeted words of a complex topic so that is is digestible and easy to repeat for the ignorant masses.

Note: I am not saying everyone who read or repeated this post is ignorant… I am simply talking about the objectives of its creators

If that notions offends you, I’m sorry… but unless you read the entire study (I did, for the record) you really shouldn’t be quoting it… let alone passing on someone else’s quote from it. Bottom line, you don’t understand it and shouldn’t be passing it off as fact (or anything else for that matter).

But this is just background for what I want to talk about today. More of the same to be sure, but on this one I can actually chime in with my opinion. You see, on most issues, like abortion, because I work for a non-partisan office, I cannot share my views (which has made for some interesting reading of some of the comments I have received… as people have assumed quite incorrectly what side of the fence I am on regarding some issues and railed against “people like me” when in fact “people like me” are “people like them” since we share the same view).

Alas, once again, I digress…

Today I saw this juicy tidbit on Facebook (take note of the highlighted text and the circled link in the image):

As I am prone to do before commenting, sharing, or even liking something on Facebook, I clicked on the available link (the one circled in the image above) to read the background and detailed information about the post. So, imagine my surprise when I read, less than half way through the article, the following:

It is a very natural process and scientists say it should not be tied directly to the very real climate changes that are also affecting this part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

You read that right… in the article referenced by the post stating “the time for half measures is over — we need climate action now” we are told in no uncertain terms that what we are reading about is “very natural” and that it shouldn’t be linked to climate changes.

Seriously, people???!?!??!?!??!?!?

This is particularly galling to me because I happen to believe in “Global Warming” and happen to agree with the folks that think we are creating our own extinction event on carbon emission at a time. And I don’t even care (…gasp…) how it effect profits (profits are of little concern to a uninhabited world, IMO). In other words… I completely agree with the message, and want to be able to re-post this. But I can’t, because it is rubbish (with regard to global warming… it’s still interesting from a purely scientific standpoint).

Simple minds are easily swayed, and I realize the path to political success is paved with mass ideological conscription. However, I can’t help feeling that with every Facebook post and Pinterest pin (of this ilk), we are chipping away our national intelligence quotient. And I’m not sure that’s a price worth paying to acquire a vote, or even an election, here and there. Democracy (representative or not) is based on an informed electorate casting informed responsible votes. When was the last time we could say that was the case for the majority of our voters? When was the last time we were even trending in that direction?

I don’t think the propaganda machines are going to stop any time soon (there is too much money and power to be accumulated), so it’s up to us, the “consumers” of this drivel to do our part. Read the underlying stories, research the so called facts, and most important… call people out on false or misleading statements (even, as is the case with the ice berg above) it runs contrary to your point of view.

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” – Thomas Jefferson

May 7, 2011

Do as I say…

I do not think Bush, Cheaney, or any other prominently places US official had anything to do with orchestrating the events of September 11th, 2001 (other than the actions of men in similar positions than the afore mentioned pair years earlier and US policy in general that is). I do not believe that Osama Bin Laden was a “good guy” or patsy, a victim of propaganda or anything like that. What I do think is that he was a desperate person who did what desperate people do… desperate things.

I don’t believe any of these things, but… I know a few pretty intelligent people who do. Because of their beliefs, I find myself questioning their thought processes and conclusions on this matter but not – at any point – their intelligence.

Why am I bringing this up?

Because a football player has been held over the fire for about a week now for publicly denouncing the celebration of another mans death and for questioning the involvement of people such as those mentioned above in the tragedy of September 11th, 2011. it is suspected that he will lose endorsements, fans, and – as a result of the previous two – that his personal finances will be (to whatever degree) compromised.

Folks – and I’m gonna be blunt here – this is just stupid. If we, nestled comfortably in the land of the free and the home of the brave, need to live in fear of exercising our right to speak our opinions (clear and present danger issues not withstanding, of course) what is it everyone was extolling when they were singing (and saying) “proud to be an American” after Bin Laden’s death was announced?

If I am to listen to what “they” tell me… in Iran, you need to be afraid of what you say… it may come back to haunt (hurt) you (especially if you are a woman). In Iraq, Syria, Saudi (oops, I don’t think I’m supposed to say bad things about Saudi Arabia cause we are friends… regardless of the actual conditions on the ground there… sorry… my bad) I am told by those I’m supposed to trust to know what they are talking about that the same is true.

I am supposed to be excited about all of the civil unrest in these countries, about UN sanctioned and executed no fly zones etc. Why? because it is all supposed to be ushering in an era of democracy and freedom in the region. It is supposed to make them more like us… enlightened and tolerant.

Unless… of course, by “us,” you happen to be a running back who has an opinion running contrary to the oh so profound refrain of USA!!! USA!!! USA!!!

Rashard Mendenhall is doing **exactly** what we are over there fighting (and over here preaching) about, exercising his freedom of speech. He has hurt no one (unlike many of his unpunished peers) and he has committed no crime (again, unlike many of his unpunished peers). No, what he has done is practice what we have all been told from as far back as we can remember is your right and responsibility as an American… when you have doubts, questions, or opinions – open your mouth and start a dialog about them.

He embraced the American way, the constitution, the bill of rights… everything that is what we (supposedly) hold dear. In return “we” have spent a week making him retreat from his words, reiterating in our actions that despite all the blather to the contrary a person really isn’t free to speak their mind in this country… at least not without consequences.

I just struggle to understand all of the national pride in our freedoms, and all the interest in “fixing” other parts of the world so that they can enjoy them as well when it doesn’t seem to actually be a core value to the average person on the street here. Freedom to agree is not the same as freedom of speech…

November 1, 2010

The Needs of the Many…

Filed under: Observations — Tags: , , , — sbj @ 8:23 pm

Tomorrow is election day, mid-term election day to be precise.  Once again many people are convinced that their vote does not matter… it does.

I’ve heard all of the excuses, ranging from “my vote doesn’t matter, my candidate doesn’t have a chance” to “I don’t like any of the candidates, I’d rather vote for this turnip.”

Well, your not going to solve the energy crisis by turning the lights off when you leave the room either, but you do it… because ultimately it does matter.  Voting, like conservation, like recycling, like philanthropy, and like so many other things does not work because you or I do it; it works because a critical mass of people do it.

If I, alone, threw all of my newspapers into a recycling center the world would actually be worse for it (based on the energy and resources that would go into the center to support me).  If my entire neighborhood did the same… still a waste.  However, when the entire city (or the vast majority of us) there is significant gain for everyone.

After the earth quake in Haiti, Sandra Bullock, Angelina Jolie, and several other stars made individual donations of $1 million or more; this plus iTunes sales generated a reported $58 million in aide.  Sounds great right?  it is, but, text donations from individuals, individual donations to the Red Cross etc. totaled over $1.3 Billion in the first 6 months.  Why? because almost everybody did their part.  The donations from the stars made great news copy, but, all totaled, would not have made an appreciable difference in Haiti (which does not mean I don’t think they were fantastic gestures and greatly appreciated).

The bottom line is that sometimes it takes being a very small part of a very big effort to actually make a difference.  Voting is no different than recycling or charitable giving, is is the sum of the parts… all of the parts, that matters.

So please, tomorrow, get out there and vote.  I don’t care if you vote republican, Democrat, Independent or something else altogether (well, I kinda do, but thats not the point here) just do it! It won’t take that long and  it does make a difference.

Oh, and… don’t forget to turn the lights out when you go!

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