Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I am in possession of a letter requesting my presence in court today. To serve as a juror, for Pete's sake! What were you thinking? I am the very model of good citizenship. I don't even speed. (Speed limit=less gas used. Less gas used=less profits for the evil oil companies. Less profits for evil oil companies=less bed climbing with middle eastern monarchies.) Not that one person in this entire country actually driving the speed limit will make a difference, but at least I know I try to do something.

Like jury duty. Most people would have a list of excuses to get out of serving. Not me. I've been called twice before. Once it was cancelled. The other time, the plaintiff's lawyer excused me. I think it was because of my profession. Not sure. I was disappointed. I wanted to do it.

What has become lost in our country is the notion that we have a responsibility to make the system work. We must participate. Vote, serve in some way, even if it is just jury duty. We are all cogs in the great wheel of America.

And if the wheel is becoming slow and unresponsive, it is because we have abandoned it. Our personal, individual lives are much too busy, our schedules much too important to be interrupted by silly civic duties. And when the ordinary citizens abdicate their role in the system, then the opportunists move in to the void. And we end up with vultures in office who only seek to improve this country for themselves and their friends.

And the ordinary citizen complains. Taxes are too high. No one is doing anything about our failing public schools. The developers are ruining the beauty of our land. Traffic is horrible. The war is wrong. All levels of government failed during the hurricane disasters this summer. "They" failed. "They" aren't doing the job. "They" aren't providing services we need. "They" are letting us down.

Who do you think "they" is? Because it's you. Those people in office were put there to be you.

If you don't vote, it's your fault. If you don't stay current with issues that are important to you. If you don't make your opinions known to your local, state and federal representatives. Then it's your fault. You have abdicated your voice.

Open those letters you get from your representatives. Fill out the questionnaires in them. Mail them back. Find the email addresses of your representatives. Email them. Ask them what they are doing about your favorite issue. Tell them what you would like to see done.

One person can't change the world? Well, if you are looking for some inspirational story, forget about it. You are probably right. Average Jane's letter isn't going to override the influence of some deep pocketed beneficiary. But if what we need is individuals to get involved personally to start swinging the sphere of influence back to the people and away from special interest groups, then we are one person closer to making that happen. Aren't we?

And you will know you did something besides complain.

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