Sunday, July 21, 2013

Taking a Stand, Making a Difference

There’s an ideal world and there’s a real world. What happens in the real world can be discouraging and disappointing to say the least. That’s why I make statements about things I believe in and try to take a stand  whenever possible through my actions to help foster an ideal world. There are things that I believe need to change for the betterment of all humankind, as well as for the planet and all the animals on it.

How things should be and how things are, what should happen and what actually happens, often times are a universe apart. This is primarily because there are several billion people on this planet, each with their own idea of how the world should be. Obviously, not everyone can be right.

I want to live in a non-materialistic world, one that is not driven by the almighty dollar.

Why do we have to pay the utility companies for the water we use in our gardens when we could collect and harvest it for ourselves when it falls freely from the sky? If we have to pay for the drinking water that the city collects and sends through pipes to our homes, why should we have faith that it’s safe and hasn’t been contaminated with chemicals from industrial waste merely because the people collecting our monthly utility payments say so?

Water quality is something I never gave much thought to until recent years. Now I have a much clearer understanding of why tap water might taste bad or smell funny or have an oily film swirling at the top. When I make a statement about this, it is my opinion. However, I typically don’t say things just off the cuff, so I do a little research before I form those opinions and make those statements. Sometimes, I do a lot of research, looking for reputable sources and comparing the data, before I develop a strong opinion.

Not everyone values my opinions, as is to be expected. Indeed, some people think I’ve allowed myself to get caught up in “yellow journalism” and that I’ve fallen for scare tactics and propaganda. In fact, it’s been suggested that perhaps I’m paranoid because I’ve been duped by the anti-oil rhetoric designed to inflame the passions of people hit hard by the recession, likening that to Hitler’s anti-Semitism propaganda. Moreover, it’s been implied that I’m uninformed and misguided, that I’ve allowed myself to be blindly misled by the media and politicians with an agenda.

Maybe my passions are right to be inflamed. Maybe everyone should be that passionate about something, or would that shatter their illusions of the world, keeping them oblivious to what’s really happening? Who’s paying to keep those illusions alive? After all, whoever writes the paychecks, influences the opinions, right? So who writes my paycheck? Not the oil companies. Not the other utility companies. Not the government. Not the pharmaceutical companies or the insurance industry. I’m not afraid to speak out against any of them.

It’s my right as an American citizen to have my opinions and to express them. I have not accused any one person or company of anything specific. Instead, I speak about ideas and concepts, about our world, and about psychological tendencies and the human condition in general based on my own observations and information that I have discovered.

I’m not afraid to demand accountability for the things I have to pay for with my hard-earned paycheck. I’m not ashamed to expect a better life for myself and my family, and I do what I can and what is right to ensure it. I certainly don’t expect anyone to just hand me something of quality for nothing.

Other people’s agendas and motives always come into question when their ideas clash with my own, but I try to have a better understanding of how those ideas came about. I want to tear down walls, not defensively build them. It’s my goal to bring people closer together and closer to a better life through what I have learned and am sharing.

For example, as the rapidly growing gap in the class structure of the United States of America continues to expand, this land of opportunity is quickly becoming the land of greedy opportunists who have all but wiped out the middle class – something I used to believe I was a part of. Opportunities pretty much exist only for those people who have been fortunate enough to have made the right financial decisions. People who have had limited economic education are paying the price for that handicap, one which is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to overcome.

So how do we fix this? What can be done? How can we close that socio-economic gap between our people so that those with little can start to believe in their country again? How do we ensure that everyone is given a fair chance? What can we do to keep everything from turning into a money-making venture for the gluttonous elite? How do we maintain the dignity of those who don’t fall in the wealthy category and wish only to preserve the prospect of living a better, easier life one day? How do we defeat the what’s-in-it-for-me mentality? How do we keep religion out of politics? How do we feed the hungry? Who decides what’s morally right in this world? Who do we allow to make our decisions for us? Does our system really work or do we have to know how to work the system?

There are so many issues that I’m passionate about, but this I do know with complete certainty:

Capitalism, like rights, is a privilege in this country – but like rights, capitalism doesn’t and shouldn’t come at the expense of others.

People seem to forget about not infringing upon the rights of others while pursuing their American dream. Our founding fathers envisioned a new country where everyone was equal, and we are about as far from that vision as we could possibly get. Sure, we’ve made some strides in gender and racial equality, but those are so superficial when compared to a truly equal society.

While I don’t harbor any utopian delusions, I don’t see the harm in striving for such a society. In fact, I encourage everyone to strive for it. Why shouldn’t we want to live in a better world? Why has the status quo become acceptable and why do we cling so fiercely to it?

Well, the status quo is not acceptable to me, and I’ll go out on a limb here to say that it shouldn’t be acceptable for anyone else either.

When was the last time you took a stand about something and tried to make a difference?

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