[PART TWO] “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States of America

My Fellow Americans (see what I did there?),

I get a lot of views on this blog from people around the world. I just want to clarify that I don’t have a problem with people from other places. We are all God’s children. I admire aspects of other cultures. But I am proud to be an American, and I want to do my part to make it the best it can be. I think that that greatness will in turn make the world a better place. That being said, here are some recommendations for things that Americans can do for their country.

1. Buy American

From what I’ve heard, the most common reasoning for not buying American is the cost. If you buy things made in China or wherever, it may be cheaper, yes, but it still comes at a price. Commerce with other countries opens up the potential for reliance on other countries. I’m all about self-reliance, so I would think it would be better to be able to be more dependent on our own manufacturers, our own workforce as a whole, to generate the goods we need to get buy. Sure, it might cost a little more in the short term, but the nature of supply and demand and the capitalist system in general will drive prices down once we’ve make the investment in and the commitment to American Enterprise.

Also, you get what you pay for. In the triangle of cost, quality and time, you lose quality when you get it fast and cheap. If you’re willing to pay and wait, you can get something that will last longer. I don’t know why, but ballpoint pens stick out in my mind. If you buy a hundred cheapo stick pens, before long you’re going to wind up with a hundred cheapo stick pens that don’t work. If you spend the extra money on a pen and you keep track of it, you’ll spend less in the long run and you won’t have a pile of worthless pens laying around. I don’t know about you, but I hate when I pick up a pen thinking it’ll work and it doesn’t. It’s infuriating. Moving on.

The same goes for just about anything. Meat, produce, clothes. Support American Ranchers and Farmers. A word of caution on the clothes, though. I used to be a Levi’s man. They were the only pants I ever wore. At 6’5″ and 250 lbs. it’s hard to find pants that work, but for a while they were doing the trick. Somewhere in there, they stopped making them in America, or I began to realize that they weren’t being made in America. It was right around the time that the starting splitting in the crotch area after not having them for very long. Like I said, I used to be a Levi’s man. Now I wear Dickies. Born in Texas, made in Texas by Texans. Damn straight. 

Overall, just know what you’re buying, demand more from the producer, and buy American. I understand that you may not be able to buy everything and that nothing happens overnight. I also understand that there are many high quality items that come from other countries (Japanese knives come to mind), but just be more conscientious and explore an American alternative. You may be surprised what you can find. 

2. Complain Less

Nobody’s perfect. European countries aren’t perfect and they’ve been doing this a lot longer than we have. Our country isn’t even 250 years old and we’re still doing a damn good job of making it happen.

I know you probably don’t have everything you want in life. I know that things are hard sometimes and it seems like you can’t get a leg up. Trust me. I know this. But it’s not America’s fault and chances are it’s nobody else’s. Things happen. Choices are made and they don’t always work out. What are you going to do about it? Play the blame game or get back to work? If you get a flat tire, you fix it and get back on the road. Complaining about it won’t take the nail out or put the spare on. Roll up your sleeves and get to work.

I saw some statistic recently about the amount of time the average person spends complaining each day. Like nine minutes. Imagine how much more you could get done if you spend that hour a week doing something productive. You could start a blog. You could do any of the Five Minute Betterment exercises on this blog. Or, if you’re really that unhappy about the way the government is doing something, you could 

3. Become More Active in Your Community

Get out there and vote.  Or if you don’t think the candidate can do the job well, run for office yourself. Get involved in a charity at your church or with a non-profit that services a cause you care about. Or just go meet your neighbors. Build relationships and get to know the people around you. Make a change on a small-scale. The little things add up and you could wind up a part of something even larger. 

The internet (invented right here in America) has redefined what the word community means.  It has enabled us to connect to people great distances away without having to leave out homes or our hometowns. There is information and communication at our fingertips that was unimaginable fifty years ago.

Used correctly and responsibly, the internet can be a valuable tool in helping us to find out more about the people and things and businesses and places around us.  You can use it to find people who feel the same way you do or find out more about something. 

4. Learn More About The United States

The history books aren’t always accurate, but a lot of times the truth is much more interesting. We’ve done so much in our short time as a country, you could literally look up the History of American Anything and spend hours learning about how and why it started, changed, grew, or even failed on this soil.

Find out more about the people that have done the things that interest you.  Connect with others with the same interests in your town, state, or other parts of the country. Take a trip to a local historical site or plan a vacation to somewhere you’ve never been. Learn about the good and the bad. Find out what Americans have done wrong and what Americans have done or can do to fix it.  Most of us wouldn’t completely write someone without knowing the whole story. So learn the whole story. 

If you learn all you can and you’ve done all you can and you still don’t like it here, 

5. Move away

That may sound harsh, but it’s true.  If you truly think you’d be happier somewhere else, then go there.  You’re an American and you still have the freedom to leave. Maybe you’d prefer somewhere where they have Universal Everything. Maybe you’d like a different climate, or Communism, or another language or culture. That’s fine. Go ahead and go. You have that freedom here and it’s a beautiful thing. 

– –

In the end, you deserve to be happy. You deserve to pursue your happiness, but no one’s going to give it to you.  So get out there and do something that’ll make your life better and make our country and most likely the world better if only a little bit.

Use your freedom but take it for granted. Work hard and reap rewards.

God Bless America.

Patriotically

Glass

“Winners embrace hard work. They love the discipline of it, the trade-off they’re making to win. Losers, on the other hand, see it as punishment. And that’s the difference.” – Lou Holtz

 

I used to watch a lot more Notre Dame football.  My mom’s side of the family is Irish Catholic so there was usually encouragement to ‘marry a redheaded Irish girl’ and go to Notre Dame.  I didn’t do either of those.  I married a beautiful half-Mexican brunette and went to a smaller Catholic university in Central Texas.  When I got older, my brother and his friends and I would celebrate (yes, celebrate) the start of each football season with a Game Day gift exchange and a whole lot of beer.  Then, we’d celebrate each game after that without gifts, but still with a lot of beer.

Within a few years, my brother went overboard with the drinking and prescription drugs and a whole lot of bad decisions and some of the resentment has kind of rubbed off on the Notre Dame experience.  It’s totally irrational, I know, but it’s just one of those things.  So I haven’t watched a whole lot of games these past few seasons.

That’s not to say that I don’t still bleed Blue and Gold.  And that’s no to say that I don’t still enjoy that rich history of one of the longest-running football programs in the nation, which is why I chose to use a Lou Holtz quote for this post.  But this post isn’t about football necessarily, it’s about hard work.

If you’ve read the last post, you’ve probably pieced together that I work with/supervise some guys that are terribly hard workers.  It’s hard for me to understand why someone would go to work and not do work.  My parents taught me the value of hard work and the joy of completing tasks and I get a lot of satisfaction out of putting in hard work.  It makes me worry about the future of the human race when I see people who move in slow motion or who sit around all day and talk or do nothing.

That’s why I like this quote.  I wouldn’t necessarily call these people ‘losers’ but I think it a person’s attitude towards their work really speaks to their character.  If you sit and complain about having to do your job, then why are you there?  What makes you think that anyone owes you anything if you’re not doing anything in return?  What makes you so special?

I’ve had a lot of difficult jobs.  I’ve worked twelve-hour shifts stocking beer.  I’ve worked sixteen hour shifts at a psychiatric facility for children.  I’ve taught in the projects.  Every one of those jobs and the handful of others that I’ve had all had their difficulties.  I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever really had an ‘easy’ job.  But I always made it a point to get after it when I clocked in.  I pushed myself to learn and grow in the job and if it wasn’t a good fit, then I would find something else.  That’s not to say that I didn’t have my moments of slacking off or being off-task, but I always got the job done.

If you sit around and you don’t get anything done, you start to feel like your job is worthless.  Which isn’t true.  You’re the one who’s worthless because you’re not doing your job.  If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, that’s fine.  Find something that you are passionate about (more about that in the next post).  But if you’re at work, do work.  It’s simple.

Isn’t it?

I think that this attitude is a symptom of a greater disease in our culture.  This idea that showing up is enough and that competition is bad.  You can’t hurt anyone’s feelings.  We have to take care of everyone.  Welfare.

Whatever happened to “no such thing as a free lunch?”  The way I see it, there are plenty of people that are getting free lunches because a bunch of other people are working their butts off and pumping money into these social service organizations.  Why is the government providing handouts for people who don’t want to work?  Why are the rest of us footing the bill for people who have no intention of even trying to remove themselves from the government teat?  Where did we as a nation go wrong?

The fundamental role of the government should be to protect, not provide.  Charity should come from, you guessed it, charities.  Let people choose where their hard-earned money is going.  Because this is getting out of hand.

But I digress.  My point is that hard work built this country.  Hard work is good for you.  Hard work is good for everyone.  So get out there, pick something worth doing and get to work.

 

Diligently,

David Glass