[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

[PART ONE] “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

JFK.  Definitely one of my favorite presidents.  I did a nice homage to DDE a while back if you’re interested.  There’s just something captivating about the office of the President, and it’s always intrigued me.

I couldn’t be President, I can tell you that right now.  Definitely not in modern times.  All the news networks dissecting what you say and over-analyzing the minutia of your every action.  You know, it wasn’t always like that.  Sure, you’d hear him on the radio or see him on the TV, or read about him in the paper, but it didn’t seem so.. nit-picky.  People didn’t get their feelings hurt because they didn’t have time to. A hundred years ago, the world was in the throes of the Great War.  Fifty years ago was Civil Rights Movement.  This year?  The media is lambasting President Trump for getting an extra scoop of ice cream.  That’s not to say that there aren’t more important things going on.  THERE ARE.  But where is the attention paid?

Not totally unrelated, but the term ad hominem refers to a personal attack, or “attacking an opponent’s character rather than answering his argument.”  Apparently, there’s now a term called ad feminam  which appeals to prejudices about women.  Okay.  I’m going to come back to this, but there is something you need to know before I go on.  I am married.  My wife and I have two daughters.  We encourage them to do the activities they want to do.  Because this is America.  But they don’t get free reign over the whole house.  Because we’re still the parents.  Moving on.

I’d like to touch on another phrase now, from our very own Declaration of Independence: the Pursuit of Happiness. If you have time, I would suggest you Google the origins of the phrase. I know most people agree where Life and Liberty came from, but the old PoH is a more widely disputed nugget. Check it out. Life and Liberty are pretty straightforward in my mind. No one should end your life and no one should imprison your mind or your body.

These are part of the wealth of rights that as Americans are blessed with at birth. Rights that people in other countries aren’t. We can believe what we want, marry who we want, speak out against the things we don’t agree with, stand trial when we are accused of a crime.  The list goes on.  It is the government’s responsibility to protect those rights. But it is not the role of the government to provide.

I’ve talked about this before.  Charitable acts should come from charitable organizations. Not the government. When the government (or anyone else for that  matter) tries to make everyone happy, then no one is.  When the government removes itself from the daily and personal lives of it’s citizens, the citizens are free to, you guessed it, pursue their happiness. 

I know that the pursuit of happiness of not promised by the Constitution, but as a foundational and somewhat universal idea in our culture, I want to base the following notion off of it.  The PoH implies an action. Or rather, a lack of hindrance. The government will not stand in the way of you pursuing what makes you happy.  More importantly:

The government is not responsible for providing you with happiness.

Bold and italicized because I mean it. The government is too big and too focused on giving people things when we all were given one of the greatest gifts in the world: American citizenship. I understand that not everyone can break out of the situation that they were born into. But that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have the chance to. Hard work is a beautiful thing and it seems like a lot of people are more content to complain than to do something about it. See my previous post about hard work for examples. 

We take a lot for granted here and I feel like a lot of times we don’t give back. In fact, I feel like a lot of Americans speak badly about our Great Nation because they haven’t achieved their happiness. That’s not the government’s​ fault. And it’s not my fault either. Spend your time and energy not demanding what the government can do for you, but what you can do for yourself.  We’ll discuss next post what you can do for your country.

God Bless America.

With the rights granted to me as an American Citizen by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution I sign this

Freely,

David Glass

“If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They’ll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads. But if an American wants to preserve his dignity and his equality as a human being, he must not bow his neck to any dictatorial government.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States of America

I want you to re-read that quote.

Done?

Read it one more time.

Now I would like to take a moment to talk to you about the state of individual liberties in this country, and the effect that it will have on you, Dear Reader.

This post has been a long time coming but I felt extra compelled to discuss individual liberty after all this talk about Obama and the UN trying to take our guns away.  What you have to understand is that this removal of rights did not start with and will not end with guns.

Let me give you a brief lesson on the mental development of human beings from the standpoint of a parent and now-former teacher.  There are many techniques that one can use to modify someone’s behavior, but they can all be classified into four categories: Type 1 or 2 reinforcement and or Type 1 or 2 punishment.

Type 1 (positive) reinforcement refers to the application of a desirable stimulus as a reward to a desirable behavior.  This is pretty much a reward system; you get a treat when you do the right thing.  In children, this tends to be an external reward, like a toy or a sticker.  It is a very common method used in classrooms across the nation.

Type 2 (negative) reinforcement is when an undesirable stimulus is removed when a desirable behavior is performed.  An example for this would be applying ointment to a bug bite or a scratch.  When you take care of your body, you will not feel discomfort.  When you clean your room, your parents will stop bugging you to clean your room.  If you get your term paper written during the week, you won’t have to work on it over the weekend.

Type 1 (positive) punishment means that an undesirable stimulus is being applied when an undesirable behavior is displayed.  Spanking, traffic fines, and being yelled at by someone are examples of positive punishment.

Type 2 (negative) punishment refers to the removal of a desirable stimulus when an undesirable behavior occurs.  This is also a common form of behavioral modification and takes place in the form of time-out (or, to a higher degree, jail time) and the taking away toys/privileges/cell phones/computer time (/gun rights/personal freedoms)/etc.  Type 2 punishment is also called removal punishment and is more or less based in fear.

[click here for the Wikipedia article on psychological reinforcement which I’ve paraphrased here]

Parents magazine has an article called Top Ten Toddler fears that, as you can imagine, lists the most common fears that young children face.  The five that apply most to our discussion are: the Dark, monsters, strangers, separation,and Being Alone.

 I can remember the one or two times that I got separated from my parents in the store when I was little.  I can remember it because it was one of the most terrifying experiences ever. I can also pinpoint times in my childhood where these other fears have stood out, at times dominating my psyche.  

[I am still, to this day, weary of strangers, especially ones in vans because of the whole Stranger Danger thing in the 80s.]

Anyway, the core of the negative, or removal punishment is fear of removal. It is said that time out generates in a child a fear that they are being separated from their parents. Taking toys and things away can generate a similar response of loss or separation. This is referred to as a fear of removal. Our government has, ironically, used fear to convince us that removal is the answer. 

The state of our union is no doubt a fearful one. We are inundated with news coverage of violent, gun-related crime against the innocent citizens of our country. We are quietly and repeatedly told that taking away is the answer. That people’s safety is more important than their freedom. But freedom keeps us safe from the people that really want to hurt us: the ones in power that want to put restraints on the citizenry.  The ones casting the shadows in Plato’s allegorical cave so that we will sit chained and accept a reality that is nowhere near real.

It is a falsity that we fear. 

A falsity that robs us of our dignity. 

A falsity that we must reject and replace with the natural truth that was bestowed upon us not just by the fathers of this great nation, but also and more importantly by our Father in Heaven. 

The Truth is that we stopped being slaves the day we followed Moses out of Israel and that we must stop bowing out heads to the kind of dictatorial government that would lie to us because it thinks that we cannot handle the Truth. 

But we can and we must. If we want to shake free the chains of our fear-mongering  oppressors and demand solutions that do not sacrifice the freedom that we were given at birth.

Read that quote one more time.

Then ask yourself what’s more important.

Freely,
Glass

“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.” – Bruce Lee

Did you know that when you cast a vote in the presidential election, your vote does not go to the actual candidate?  Instead, it goes to a member of the Electoral College who is anticipated, but not obligated, to vote for the candidate that you voted for.  Then, a month later, the electoral votes are counted and the winning candidate is announced.  Should the elector decide that his or her state’s votes would be better suited for the candidate that won the popular vote, they can vote accordingly, thereby negating the popular vote (Remember 2000?).  In its history, the Electoral College has overturned the popular vote FOUR TIMES! (Adams vs Jackson in 1824, Hayes vs Tilden in 1876, Harrison vs Cleveland in 1888, and Bush vs Gore in 2000).

Wait, what?  I’m sorry, but that just seems like a total crock.  Not to say that I disagree with how the elections turned out, but I just have a hard time understanding the reasoning behind the over-200 year old EC in modern times.  The author of the above article mentions that we shouldn’t get rid of the EC because even though there those four elections that didn’t go with the popular vote, every other election did.  I want to know why we still need it if the vast majority of the elections have just gone with the popular vote anyway.  It just seems like having that electionary middle man is getting in the way of our freedom.

I’m sure the Electoral College had a purpose two hundred years ago, when democracy was new and people didn’t know how the process worked or didn’t care, but this is the age of information and we all have a basic understanding of how this voting thing works.  Why do we need other people to pass the vote on for us?  In my opinion, we don’t.  It’s an antiquated system and it’s a waste of time.  Let’s simplify the process and let the voice of the people truly be heard.

I’ve spoken before about the importance of simplification.  If we are going to have a government that is going to be as efficient as we are ourselves, we’ve got to start objectively searching out and eliminating redundancies and other major time-wasters because time is money and government officials are burning through both like there’s no tomorrow.

This is a small part of a bigger problem that I will continue to discuss over time.  Topics to come will include welfare, unemployment, bipartisanship, Congressional reform, and much, much more!  Be sure to follow my blog for more insights and visit me on Instagram @thatmanglass for the visual accompaniment.  I appreciate your time and I know that together we can stop wasting it.

Thoughtfully,

D. Glass