Its a solemn day to reflect on the sacrifices of veteran’s at the end of this tumultuous week in the United States. This is an important time to pause in humble gratitude.
I’ve been working through what this election means and what happens next. So, now that I’ve over-consumed on simple carbohydrates and taken many thinking walks — my thoughts this Veteran’s Day:
- On military service… Who makes up our current armed services and is it representative of our nation? Check out this great series of slides. The Air Force has the highest female enlistment and this of course made me think of you, Leann Rawlins, and you choosing service in the Air Force because they weren’t going to make you chop off your hair. You’re a badass and thank you for your service. What about Congress and the Presidency? Well, what a story out of Illinois and Senator-Elect Duckworth What a humbling bio. Of course, she cannot ascend to the Presidency as she was born in Thailand, talk about the immigrant contribution… How about the rest of Congress — here’s a breakdown of Veteran’s in Congress As Congress is responsible for declaring war, this is a critical demographic and worthy of consideration and investigation. What about the Presidency? Well, take a look through this history of service. Of course we have to go back to George H.W. Bush to find a combat veteran. A Commander in Chief better surround him or herself with exceptional military personnel to effectively lead.
- On Protests… Authors of the Bill of Rights, service members who defend those rights in conflict and peace keeping, and citizens who have fought to preserve and expand those rights to all in this country, know that protests are key to our democracy. I remember sitting in Dr. Gloria Cox’s political science class talking about how wonderful our country is when the United States National Park Service produces a brochure on how to stage a protest in Washington, D.C. Think about that if you’re fortunate enough to be an American… Our system of government values your freedoms of assembly and speech so much that it offers guidance on how to express these rights and issues permits to stage the protest against that very same government. Let that marinate in your mind for a moment… Have something to say? Great — here’s how to do it effectively It is your right and your government will help you do it.
- On civic engagement… Just a little refresher, as citizens we have both rights and responsibilities. Here’s a sample:
- Freedom to express yourself.
- Freedom to worship as you wish.
- Right to a prompt, fair trial by jury.
- Right to vote in elections for public officials.
- Right to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship.
- Right to run for elected office.
- Freedom to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
- Support and defend the Constitution.
- Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.
- Participate in the democratic process.
- Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.
- Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.
- Participate in your local community.
- Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.
- Serve on a jury when called upon.
- Defend the country if the need should arise.
These rights and responsibilities are available to all citizens. How these get executed by the 322 + Million people in the United States will obviously vary. But one thing I know for sure, civic engagement is not sitting in your Lazy Boy recliner, watching people scream at each other on television about something you already agree with, while typing nasty remarks to people on line who all think the same things you already do. Slacktivism and snark are the cheap tools of the lazy citizen. Sitting through an hours long budget meeting and hashing through line-by -line how the overwhelming needs of a nation, state, city, village, or school are going to be met through limited resources is citizenship. Serving an unpaid 6 year term on a local school board facing multiple complex challenges is citizenship (I see you Missy Lilje and thank you in advance for the work and time you’re about to take on in service to our children and community). Yes, the outcome of the Presidential election has a monumental impact on our nation and the world. However, the needs of the local community are always present and there are boards, committees, councils, and organizations in need of our time, talent, and treasure. This type of work is hard, mundane, and unglamorous. It is also deeply personal, highly-contentious, and sometimes just bat-shit crazy. The decisions made at the local and state level impact the daily quality of our lives. There is work to do — turn off the TV and plug in somewhere for real.
- On complexity… I would like to ban any reference to “both sides”. The idea that there are two sides to every issue is absolutely absurd. There are an infinite number of sides to even the simplest of issues. The hallmark of an educated person is the ability to see the multiple, and possibly conflicting, sides of an issue. The hallmark of a person with emotional intelligence, or EQ, and which is often cited as more important than IQ, is the ability to empathize with another or see another’s perspective. That requires the ability to connect, listen, switch perspective, and criticize one’s own vantage point. In other words, complexity. We are facing incredible challenges locally, nationally, and globally. Beware the simple answer and the shortcut to understanding. The best we can do is study, learn, debate, listen, implement, tweak, and advance. Then evaluate, review, revise, and advance again. If you’re not willing to consider that it’s hard, confusing, and complex then please, by all means, stay in that Lazy Boy while those willing to do the work sit at the table.
- On immigrants…Between 2% and 3% of the United States population are Native Americans, or between 644,000 and 966,000. The rest of us 322 Million + people have ancestors that came from somewhere else at sometime along the way. Maybe your ancestors came here 500 years ago on the Mayflower. Or maybe 300 years ago in chains and sold into slavery. Some of our ancestors came fleeing religious persecution in their homeland. Some of our ancestors came seeking fortune. Some for jobs, for education, for safety. Some were hungry for food, for freedom, for love. We came and became Americans. I’m, of course, married to an immigrant, by which I mean naturalized citizen. (Editor’s Note: I first met my husband in that same class referenced above which happened to be Women in Politics, which he enrolled in to meet women. He’s clearly a genius. In fact, Crawford women have a bit of a track record here — looking at you Kim & Matt McGinness and Rachel & Diego Silva–serious value-adds to this country with those two pickups. You’re welcome, America). Want a good cry, watch a few swearing in ceremonies of new American citizens. I guarantee that whenever your people came here they were hated/feared as well. And if you’re lucky enough to have been born in this country, well–that’s just it, you’re lucky. Don’t think because you were born on third base you hit a triple. Point being, none of us are more American than any other American. We’re just flawed, striving people organized under an amazing, complicated, frustrating, infuriating, and beautiful system. Pause, reflect, then work…..