Sunday, May 16, 2010


I was sitting outside eating my lunch and enjoying a little beautiful southern California weather while watching my dog hunt monsters in the bushes and listening to a very eclectic collection of music when my happy little personal cosmos was invaded by some well meaning neighbors -shattering my momentary contentment. In an effort to be sociable (an illusion I find convenient to project on occasion) I began chatting with them about the weather, dogs, grass cutting and a dozen little casual things such gatherings always seem to generate. Since I am a relative newcomer to the neighborhood the conversation inevitably got around to a probing of my work experience and personal history. I was surprised to discover that, although I have only had the briefest contact with my neighbors, they were already fairly well versed. Never underestimate the power of gossip. It turns out that they were aware of my work in management and leadership (one actually claimed to have read my book) and one lady said she had accidentally run across my blog on the internet and enjoyed it. I have to admit that this piece of information surprised me because it had honestly never occurred to me that anyone other than a few close friends would ever pay much attention to my ramblings.

I suppose because I have become anything but shy about expressing my opinions regarding politics I was regarded as something of an expert on the subject, a misconception I tried valiantly to correct. Fortunately, these particular neighbors shared many of my opinions.

During the discussion about my blog I was asked an interesting question. Why do I write it? The question itself was a rather obvious one but the answer is anything but obvious, even to me. It stuck with me all day and got me wondering. Why take the time to write down my opinions and expose them on the internet to literally the entire world? Did I think, even for a moment, that anyone cared about what I think or that it would make any difference? Do I write to give myself the illusion that I have some influence over world affairs? Certainly not. So then, why?

As it turns out, the answer is quite simple. There are two reasons why I write this blog. The first reason is just because I can. The second is because it makes me feel good. Let me explain. This is a great country. We enjoy some freedoms that we have come to take for granted and one of these is the freedom to express our opinions about anything and anybody at any time. This is a right we are so used to that many of us forget it is not enjoyed in many places around the world. In fact, the vast majority of the world population lives in countries where you do not dare to speak out against the government or people in power. This simple fact separates us and is one of the things that make people want to be more like America. More importantly it is one of the key elements that guards our other freedoms and secures our individual rights. The fact that I, like many other Americans, regularly and publicly express my opinions and am not afraid of openly criticizing people in power, the government, corporations, policies or anything else, helps to remind everyone that we, the people, are the ultimate power and authority and helps to prevent our living under a draconian or totalitarian government such as those seen around the world.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no illusions about my little blog making any difference whatsoever in the formation of policies or influencing the course of our political landscape. I believe, however, that collectively our voices are heard. I think it is important for us, as individuals, to participate in debates on the things happening around us and to let people know how we feel and what we think. An English philosopher, Edmund Burke, said, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.’ Unless we regularly exercise our right of free speech we run the risk of loosing it. Unless you take a stand and say when you like or do not like something, you forfeit your right to complain about it later.

People who criticize me for wasting my time writing this blog are usually the very ones who go merrily along keeping silent about things until laws are passed, policies enacted or taxes raised that intrude on their lifestyles. Then they complain verbally and bitterly but take no action. Many do not even take the time to vote singing the well know chorus “one little vote won’t make any difference anyway”. I find these people lazy, hypocritical, and cowardly. What is worse, their failure to exercise their rights makes it easier for greedy and power hungry people to usurp those rights and freedoms.

I am not saying that people need to go out and write blogs or letters to the editor or to attend political rallies or to run for public office. I write a blog and discuss politics with my friends because it is the way I have chosen to participate. It makes me feel good to have my say. All that is necessary, however, is for people to just be aware of what is happening, read the blogs and articles in the newspapers and magazines or just watch the news then go out and vote when the time comes –but use your vote to express your honest, informed opinions. Don’t vote for something because the issue has the best slogan or because the candidate has the best hair cut or even because that is how your neighbor voted. Use your vote to express your true opinion.

And the next time one of you asks me why I write my blog, make sure you have plenty of time to hear the answer –and having a bottle of aspirin handy probably won’t hurt.

Today's Fun Picture

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