January 20, 2004

Missed Opportunities... I don't know why I am continually amazed at the apathy of Americans and the disinterest in the governing of our country, but I am. I suppose it is an optimism buried somewhere deep inside me thinking "This time it will be different" - but sadly it never is. Tonight was the State of the Union address and I wonder how many watched or listened to it or read it online. I did, Serona did and our kids did, did you?

As many of you know we do not get television stations (network or cable) in our home for a variety of reasons. The only time I miss this is when the president is speaking, there is a political debate or the Olympics is on. Tonight being one of those nights I headed to our local gym which has TV's everywhere. What followed should not surprise me but it did sadden me.

I arrived right as the president was walking in to find that on the big screen TV in the main sitting area was a sportscenter show. One gentleman was watching it and I kindly asked him if we could switch it. Now this is not something I would normally do, but it is the State of the Union. He seemed exasperated but consented so I put it on. He sat for awhile and watched and then got up and left. People drifted in and out, I was the only one to watch it start to finish (granted there may have been others in the gym as there are many TV's in the general exercise area) but many people were walking in and out of the gym while this was going on, several making wisecracks as they passed by. I couldn't help but think to myself "HELLO PEOPLE, THIS IS THE PRESIDENT OF YOUR COUNTRY SPEAKING ABOUT THE STATUS OF YOUR COUNTRY. DON'T YOU CARE?"

I don't think it matters your politics - you should be interested in what is going on. Even when it was Clinton and I knew I literally could not believe anything the man ever said again I still made myself listen and be respectful - he was the leader of our country. But so many people I saw tonight did not appear to care. The saddest to me was watching the kids and their parents at the gym. Parents who passed by or let their kids run around the area without so much as mentioning "That is President Bush" to their kids. _Sigh_ would that really be that hard to do?

Perhaps you would say I expect too much from people, I don't think so. Now I am not saying everyone needs to do things the way we do. Most people think we are nuts making our 2 and 4 year old listen to the president and involving them with political campaigning and taking them to see Ralph Nader, President Bush, First Lady Bush and our governor and senator speak. Our kids can recognize the president by his picture and know their governor's name - but I know that is unusual - but I still think it is sad.

I wonder how many people missed out on a great opportunity tonight to teach their kids about our land, our president, our laws, the good and the bad. Many may have had reasons but it saddens me that there seems to be so little respect for the governing leaders of our country. What are we teaching our kids? To me it was awe inspiring to see almost all the leaders of our country in one room and to be reminded of all we have accomplished as a nation and to dream and plan for all that is to come. I want to share that passion and experience with my kids and I am saddened that others don't.

Just like we can raise our kids to eat well, learn the basics and the finer things in life, we can and should teach them to be active and responsible citizens. That begins by being active and responsible citizens ourselves and then making the political, legal, and legislative process tangible, interesting and a normal part of their everyday life. No wonder so many people grow up thinking they can't make a difference. Let's make changes in our own families and spheres of influence. We can and should take the teachable moments life hands us and use them to the best we can. A State of the Union address is one such opportunity that far too many pass up.

Just my .02


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