Unless you are running for office, the one thing we can all agree on is change is constant. Life has a way of rearing its ugly head from time to time and forcing us to take stock of ourselves. Since I began writing for LAPX two years ago, not only is my life, but the life of this nation as well, much different.
If you are fortunate enough to live a comfortable middle class life as I do, you may not see much difference in you life from two years ago. However, if you are unable to see the changes that have gone on with regards to the mood of this nation then you are either an incredibly self centered person or you live in a tree and have forsaken all forms of communication with the rest of the world.
I know enough to know I do not have as many solutions to our problems as I do have awareness of what are some of the core problems we face. I thought it might be a good idea to share what I feel are some of our ills without trying to blame any individuals or specific political parties, neither of which will get me very far if I did. However, these are things I do know that far too many of us either just accept as a way of life or blindly ignore until something smacks us back to reality.
- Too many people want to arm teachers while others want to disarm cops. Neither is a good idea.
- We say it is okay for athletes not to stand at attention during the playing of our national anthem but not okay for a high school teacher to step on the flag as part of a lesson on free speech. Too many Americans just don’t have a clue about our rights and need more lessons to wake them up.
- We are rightly concerned about the killing of unarmed citizens by cops, but not concerned enough over the killing of unarmed citizens by their family, neighbors, peers, or strangers. Yes, we have a problem with some cops going too far, but a much bigger problem exists with violence has a whole in our culture that has just become accepted.
- We have allowed our government to pour billions of dollars every year into wars fought half way around the world while letting them off the hook in the fight to end poverty at home. Hand outs, welfare, subsidies; whatever term you want to call it, it does not make up for the pride and self esteem that goes with knowing you are a contributing part of society. You do not make people feel better about themselves by throwing money in some form at them with the intent to keep them quiet. It’s why number three above is a problem.
We allow CEO’s to walk away from their crimes with multimillion-dollar buyouts while pot dealers go to jail. Makes me wonder just how much dirt these CEO’s have on not just the companies they headed, but also the government collusion or failures that contributed to it.
- We view too many athletes, singers, actors, and comedians as having a “God given” talent and pay them millions of dollars to entertain us while failing to appreciate the “God given” talents of us regular people. Entertainers are nothing more than “Distractions” who are well paid to keep the masses from thinking about the disparity that exists in our culture. Worse, we allow these people to live by a different set of standards and all because too many people see them as being special. They aren’t.
- The general population thinks we live in a democracy. The term is used by our leaders in such a misleading way that we actually believe them. If we lived in a democracy, we would have more than just two old and corrupt political parties to offer voters real choices come election time.
- We say money is the root of all evil, but then we get angry when our government does not throw more money at our problems. Maybe the problem is not the amount of money we throw at problems, but rather the lack of accountability. How many of us spend more money when we do not have enough to pay our current bills? Most choose to be more accountable with their spending habits. Tax paying voters need to demand more accountability for the money our leaders take from us or elect people who will.
- Too many citizens view justice as simply getting the end result they desire. This is not justice; it is revenge. We would be wise to actually learn more about our system of justice before we take to the streets and protest judicial results. This, however, will require our government to place a greater emphasis on students mastering our system of government, something they would prefer we not know nearly as well as algebraic equations.
- Finger pointing, fear mongering, lies, and negativity are now considered skills to master for a career in politics or life in general. These used to be considered problems that hold people back in life. Now they lead to too many being richly rewarded for crapping on the rest of society.
- We can rebuild roads, homes, and entire cities abroad after we have destroyed them with bombs, but not do the same with our own cities we have ignored for decades. When this is coupled with item number 10, you get a nation divided because we have leaders who identify the triggers to our anger and then go about pointing fingers more than actually solving problems.
- If a president we elected in 2008 on the message of hope cannot bring this nation closer in eight years, how do we expect either one of two who are loathed by far more than they are admired to do a better job in 2016? When we wake up on November 9th, we can gloat, point fingers, dig in our heels, or punish, but if we do, come 2020, we will be worse off than we are today. Or we can roll up our sleeves and set about trying to find what we have in common with our neighbors, colleagues, and enemies and get to work on common goals and reestablishing greater trust and respect for one another.
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.