Friday, February 13, 2009

Shifting the focus of American ideals

By William Zimmermann

I was watching Spin City with Michael J. Fox. It's a sitcom made in the early nineties when Mike was at his best in his role as manager of the Mayors office in New York City. It occurred to me that I was feeling strangely nostalgic for the early nineties. It was a time when the world was prospering and I felt as though life was passing me by - in many ways. Everyone was working, earning great money, some making huge money and some had only begun to plunder the real estate swing that would last for a decade. The images of a greater New York with the twin towers still intact and Michael J. Fox in prime health serves to remind us to preserve our health and our world. The question "How do we preserve our world?" comes to mind. Many tragedies can be prevented. To balance risk is a great way to enjoy life and preserve it all at the same time. Unfortunate genetic luck as in the case of Mike Fox can not be avoided. But look at the good he and others like Christopher Reeves had done after their focus was inextricably glued to their own personal survival.

How will we survive these days? What challenges will befall us? How can we avoid the big things? Perhaps we can't but we can take the same posture as Mike and Christoper did after their luck changed. We can prepare plans to prevent calamity and we can focus on helping others each day. There is so much need in the world. There is so much each and every American can do to save lives, feel good and help other people to live better and more human lives. We do not need to get a disease to raise money for a cure. We don't need to fall to circumstance if it can be avoided. I know for a fact that I do not give enough back to a world, a country that has been so good to me. Certainly Americans do not connect with each other enough. We are a country of litigation and social programs that cut checks and do little else in support of the health and well being of one another. It is sad that our system of medicine and the structure of care, of education and of industry is so very consumer based that we forget who is doing the providing. It truly is us, but so indirectly that nobody can give from their heart or receive in gratitude the great gifts of this generous country. Out taxes are gathered by Washington and doled out in anonymous philanthropy via Social Security and other programs without as much as a word from those who provided it for us. Medical insurance, the industrial Medical business, the military and all the major systems in this country work about the same way.

There is no opportunity to give generously your gifts when they are sucked in by the government and distributed by the government. Even corporations work the same way. Funny how that is. The individual goes on disconnected. The individual, so very entrenched in this system goes on in complete ignorance of why he or she feels so disconnected. In this age of quiet desperation people need to work together to re initialize the economy with real value, genuine integrity and real products that work well for the people who need them. I think president Obama's idea of a green energy economy is remarkable but I also think it will get lost in corporate and governmental red tape. The purpose of this post is to comment on our need to focus on those who need us and to give genuine value to the world. Americans need to step up to the plate and use resources more creatively. Resources that do not necessarily come from institutions, but from those who give their gift freely. For example: Lets say there is a man who has been studying History for a lifetime but he does not have a teaching "certificate." Who would you rather your child be taught History by? A passionate Historian or a teacher "of history" who probably has more interest in a paycheck than history itself? This concept applies to government, corporations, organizations, institutions and the like. We, as a society need to re-orient ourselves to life in a more natural and less monolithic way in order to get the education we need to express our individual talents properly and to maximize them completely. We can no longer sit in classrooms that fall short of excellence simply because a "certificate" is required to teach them. We can no longer afford to substitute passion with mediocrity. The time has come for each American to take a hard look at life with the same focus as Michael Fox and Christopher Reeves. See into life and find out what really matters. What really truly matters?

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