Monday, November 1, 2010

Taking Back Our Country?

On my way to the doctor's I passed a couple of people holding signs for a candidate in tomorrow's election. Pasted to the back of one of the signs was another that said ,"We want our country back." It is probably a good thing that I was on my way to an appointment and wasn't free to engage them in discussion, good because I might have crossed the line into rude and that would not be good for a newcomer to town. But if I could have talked with them calmly, I would have asked them, "Back from whom? Do you think it was stolen?" I'm not sure that I can even guess what their answers might have been. If they had identified big  business as the thief, I might have agreed with them. If they had told me that Democrats had stolen the country, I would have pointed out that Democrats are also Americans and all that they did was win some  important elections. I might even have pointed out that many of us who voted for the President think that not enough has changed and that there is still a great deal that we can do to realize the promise of America. 

I understand that people are angry and want someone to blame for whatever they think is wrong. But one's political opponents are not the enemy and no one has stolen our country. What may be the case is that we haven't taken our share of responsibility for our political life. Many of us don't even vote. Even those who vote may not even remember the names of those who represent them in Washington or Boston. Few of us take the time to communicate with our representatives about issues that concern us. And yet we feel free to complain that our representatives haven't done their jobs when we have failed to do ours. It's time we got it right and began practicing the advance citizenship of being Americans.

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