After all, the freedom and liberty of a society most specifically rises and falls through the construction and deconstruction of ideas. It is the word, and not the bullet that accurately responds to the denigration of liberty and to the pernicious amalgamated encroachment of ignorance. When founded in honesty, compassion, and altruism, the refined, intentful written and spoken word is the art form that deftly meets the obscureness and tactics found in the blunt political instruments of corruption, immoral power acquisition, and strategic self-serving ploys.
So it is that the critical thinking mind, with its ability to observe, listen, analyze, reflect, and release creative thought, is the effective and singular instrument best applied on the battlefront of maintaining our basic human rights.
Be us aware or not of its importance, our benign grade school experience is the required training ground created for the sharpening of agility, mental flexibility, and innovative attributes readily needed to be of any use in distinguishing and defending our rights. And therein, exists a great disparity in the quality of citizenship and the very direction our society is driven in as a whole.
Not all education is created and delivered equally. Not all students receive the right tools to be active, advocating passionate citizens. Our focus is largely conditioned and channeled into economic endeavors that serve our own selves foremost, rather than exhibiting any selfless regard for strengthening and improving the communities we live in. The banality of taking on worthwhile causes is tempered and trivialized over time as each new generation of citizen grows into adulthood, ultimately rendering useless any effort of cognition in defending our liberties.
What do we do then? Who goes forth to breach the gaps? Where do we begin the adventure of strengthening the retaining walls of our freedoms and demolishing the fabrications that merely daub the walls to create a semblance of fortification? How do we know we are on the right side? This work is not the responsibility of none other than the ordinary citizens themselves. Our parents and Educators are on the front lines, wether they like and realize it, or they disdain it. Most often, we put off this responsibility only to try it on here and there in half-hearted measures without active and sustained efforts. Through default, the responsibility is then pushed off to our public officials and political lobbying groups that pressure and cajole these public office holders.
And that creates a problem of monumental proportions. The power of our freedom and liberty can never be taken away from citizens though, but the citizen can be duped into thinking itself into an inactive and powerless citizen. This is easily done with the use of entertainment as means of distraction. That’s it! When we remove our shoulder from the plow, becoming distracted and leaving off the good work that protects our way of life, the plow begins to rust, the ground grows weeds, and all sorts of new crops begin to grow in what was once our neatly-cared for fields of freedom.
The question remains, how do we till this ground, and how do we guard against distraction, and wherein do we begin the good work? What is the good work? What does it look like? How do parents and Educators begin to teach it? What is the role of government in all this?
Treat others as you would like to be treated: with compassion. Be the leader you want to see in the world and don’t give up! Take on a worthwhile cause that benefits life, and not one that takes away life. Care for the environment. Get smart and creative. What do people need in their towns, cities, and rural lands? Is it the proverbial ‘job’ only? We need to think like architects for our civilization. Everything starts with an idea, thus, we need to be effective writers and speakers. An active citizen writes, speaks, and takes on initiatives that combine their interests with the good that is needed. Grade schools need to have classes called, ‘Innovation,’ and ‘Community Entrepreneurship.’ They need to have classes called ‘Financial Literacy,’ and ‘Active Citizenship.’ Who has time to take on these initiatives — these adventures?! Mostly, it is those who can be flexible with their time! So we need to churn out self-employed leaders! People who are job creators, and not merely employees. It is rather difficult to have to work for a company forty to fifty hours a week and find the time and mental energy to be a writer, much less to take on a cause that builds and improves the life quality of a community. Our economic system must change to one of ‘empathic capitalism’ in order to create the conditions for Americans to be more balanced in the care taking of self and others. We have to inculcate the value of making life better in our local and national community, and doing so in such a way that we can financially sustain ourselves also.
In so few words, the economics needed to nourish a critical thinking citizenry integrate the ability to allow time and energy for such active citizenry to be patriotic stewards of freedom and liberty. It is not nationalism, but a careful and deliberate move to awaken the ordinary American with a message that calls upon ourselves to take on the duty of adding to the American dream and each of us be creators of the experience.
You are already powerful. Will you lay your freedom to the side and simply raise up the the red, white, and blue flag of liberty? Because freedom is not free, and its longevity is not only extended on the battlefield, but refreshes or wilts daily in the articulate construction, deconstruction, analysis, and observation of ideas. Freedom and liberty is strengthened in the classrooms and in our homes, on the podium and in the judicial courthouses. Freedom and liberty is given wings in the writings of an essayist, and in the reading of those who defended before us. Read about John & Abigail Adams. Read about their son, John Quincy Adams. Read the words of the American champion, Frederick Douglass, and learn about the work of Martin Luther King. Consider the steadfastness of Rosa Parks, and President Dwight Eisenhower bringing in the 101st Airborne Rangers to protect the right of people of black skin color to enter schools and be educated. Understand the poetry of Maya Angelou, and the music of Nat King Cole at a time when people of their skin color were not completely accepted as part of the American community. Learn of their remarkable character and positive attitudes. They practiced freedom and liberty.
Will you bring forward your mind, and help cultivate the mind of your children that they be inheritors of the exercise of our freedom? Train daily in having smart discussion and reflective writing. Be versatile in the perspectives and reasoning you bring to dinner time conversations with your family. Are their local topics that can be discussed? Nothing happens unless someone cares enough day in and day out to make a difference. Take on a cause that you like and begin the work of driving that ball forward. Before you start to inspire the entire country into action, you must be motivated and passionate. It must be worthwhile to you. Parents and Educators must lead to establish the new foundation that creates the road for critical thinkers to be these active citizens. It is a fun adventure, and it will make America a leader in compassion for community and environment and individual job creators. We become more human. The economy becomes more resilient, and we become a people and nation built on compassion and grit.