Good Friday. Black Friday. Easter. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Open enrollment. Stock market fluctuations. School starting. End of school year. Back to school shopping. Tax exempt week. When does your car’s inspection expire? The registration? When do you need your oil changed? How much is gasoline today? Is the stock market up or down? How’s that affect your retirement fund?
With all of that on your mind – and it’s a short list that still doesn’t include things like sick children, house cleaning, meal preparation, grocery shopping, etc, I had to stop and wonder: when do we have time to pay attention to what our government is doing?
The short answer is that we don’t. Well, we actually really do – but instead of spending time researching what our government is doing in our name, we spend it unwinding and relaxing from the daily stress of life. We have a drink, watch some television, help the kids with homework, set up the coffee pot for the next morning and collapse into bed quite happy to feel the sheets warming up around us.
But is that smart? Is it a good way to go about the day?
Often I know we don’t feel like we have much of a choice. In today’s complicated high-tech hurry-up world, we have to go so far so fast and get so much done that we feel a tad overwhelmed simply with the effort of trying to keep up. Falling behind can be a major stress factor in our days or weeks. With that in mind, when we do get a few minutes to let our bodies and brains relax we aren’t really motivated to check up on what our government officials are doing. After all, if we watch the news for a few minutes then we find all that out, right?
Well, not really. It depends on which news service you watch, what their spin is (often dependent on the ownership’s political leanings) and what else might be news that particular day. Think about it a second: something really important could be left out because something even more important happened. When a plane flew into the Pentagon on 9/11 it was the #2 news story of the day – because of the World Trade Center attacks. A plane crash in Pennsylvania was only #3. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Now, for news, we have parents who fake lost children; couples who crash White House parties; what’s the hot item to buy on Black Friday and more. What about the news that might be of importance but isn’t as fun or spectacular to read about? What about the whole of Congress being pushed to vote for a healthcare reform bill that will have serious impacts on our children’s and grandchildren’s futures but is over 2,000 pages long and few of our elected representatives are bothering to read it? What about that small problem out west where a woman – thanks to her state’s healthcare guidelines – can’t get chemotherapy but CAN get assistance with suicide? What the heck?
What this all boils down to is this: WE THE PEOPLE cannot afford to ignore what our elected representatives are doing in our name. No matter how exhausting we find our day to day lives to be, we owe it to ourselves, the generations of Americans before us, and the generations of Americans to come to stay informed. We owe it to them to make our voices heard. We owe it to them to vote; make phone calls; send letters; send faxes; send emails. We owe it to them to go to Town Hall meetings and speak up. We owe it to them to exercise ALL of our God-given Constitutionally-recognized rights – not just the convenient ones.
Above all else, we cannot let our daily lives stress to the point where we’re so overwhelmed in attempting to maintain a schedule that we’re too busy to do a little research ourselves. Don’t take some news anchor’s word on a report. He didn’t write it. He’s just reading it – much like President Obama reads his teleprompter. Has he verified each word and statement? Likely not. Is he held responsible for it? Likely not. Can it be misleading? Absolutely. How do we prevent being mislead? Do the research ourselves.
Hang tough. Stay safe.