NSA Critique: Prelude
The importance of humility, vision, and initiative
I hate politics; more accurately, I hate the politics of politics, and to be completely honest, I hate some politicians. So, this opinion piece includes no political banter. I will not be discussing either side of the aisle. This debate is not, nor was it ever, about them. Next week I am going to publish my article about the National Security Agency (NSA), the Patriot Act, and the USA Freedom Bill.
I do not view the NSA scandal as something to be debated. We are talking about Constitutional rights. Republicans and Democrats should be equally outraged. There is no wiggle room. To dissent to the protections grounded in our Constitution would be to dissent to everything great about the United States, and these dissenters should move.
The other night as I was about to publish my long-awaited NSA article, something was not sitting well. I gave it some thought, and decided to publish a different article first. Think of it as a primer for what is to come.
Many people want immediate solutions to the problems we are dealing with in this country. But it is my belief that to be effective, persuasive, and able to facilitate change, we must first appreciate that change starts from the bottom. We cannot, and should not expect a single leader, or a few members of Congress for that matter, to always do what is right and best for this country. It is our duty to elect the right leaders. So, this is what this article is all about: how we can improve ourselves, adjust our attitudes, with the goal being increased awareness, understanding and wisdom. When we become wise enough to elect the right leaders, then America will finally get back on the road to recovery.
Stop Complaining So Much
Americans are tough. Unfortunately, we also like to complain, which is not a bad thing in and of itself…but it is a problem when people complain too much, or for the wrong reasons. What I call the “crying wolf” syndrome waters down otherwise very important issues and arguments. It is important to stand up for our freedoms, rights, and protections…but our words have much more meaning and force behind them when we prudently object.
We Have a Greed Problem
Some say things will never change in America, but I disagree. For quite some time, I have sensed a public sentiment that seems to silently suggest our government is far too powerful and set in its ways for people to bring about positive change. Not so. The government was created by the people, for the people. Let us not forget this.
I believe that the source of dysfunction in America is greed. The funny thing about greed is that it often leads to poverty. Poverty opens the door to corruption, oppression, and tyranny.
Humility is More Powerful than Greed
Change starts at the bottom. Keeping greed out of our lives is not as hard as it may seem. By remaining humble despite our successes, it is quite difficult to be greedy. Greed and humility cannot co-exist. It is one or the other. People help humble people. People do not help greedy people. Going through life without the help of others is no way to find success or bring about positive change.
Explore curiosity. Ask questions. What right do we have to complain about something if we are not engaged? Talk to friends and co-workers about current events, not just what happened on Breaking Bad, The Voice, the Bachelor, or the legal woes of a starlet who is not even aware of your existence. Everything is fine in moderation, but too much of anything only steals precious resources from other areas of this short life. Do not forget how incredibly valuable every second is. Engage or do not complain.
With Humility, a Vision is Born
What we accomplish today is only limited by what we accomplished yesterday. And the possibilities for tomorrow are only limited by how much we can achieve today. This is vision. A mature and developed vision is what guides wise decision making processes. In the context of bettering one’s self, vision may mean the steps required to reach professional goals. But in this context of this article, the vision implies knowing what you want from a leader who represents you, and what you want the United States to stand for. The opposite of voting for a Republican or Democrat merely because we prefer red over blue, or vice versa.
Humility and Vision Mean Nothing Without Initiative
Some things only have value if all of the right pieces are in place. If a chef leaves out one ingredient, a dish will be ruined. If an engineer leaves out a single but vital structural component, the office building he is working on could come crashing down in a tropical storm. And if a car manufacturer accidentally leaves out a transmission, then that car would be better described as a pile of metal.
Humility and vision can be thought of as the “guts” of the formula I am describing. The third element, which is initiative, can be thought of as the fuel. If the world’s fuel supply suddenly vanished, what good would a car be? Similarly, how will anyone contribute anything to society or help anyone if they are humble, have a vision, but do not put it to use?
Have you ever seen a young child standing on the edge of the diving board for 5, 10, 15 minutes or longer? Maybe you were that child. The fear of the unknown can be paralyzing. And as adults, the unknown takes the form of what others might think about us, and sometimes, self-doubt leads to poor results.
We often arrive at crossroads in life. Some people hate to have to make a choice. But if we are living the right way, do we really have a choice at all? If you have a vision, you will not need to think twice. And if you are comfortable taking initiative, believing and trusting in yourself, you will take the first step down the right path with no desire or urge to second guess the direction of that step.
What Did I Just Read, and Why?
I believe that we, as a collective society, can only elect better leaders by actively working to become better people ourselves. We cannot afford to complain, complain, complain. We will go nowhere with that attitude. I am reminded of this scripture,
“First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye”
Positive change in America is not a task for a lone wolf. It is our duty to care about the welfare of each of our neighbors. Positivity rubs off. People can tell something is different about the humble, self-respecting, well-respected individual. These people are looked up to because of the visions they have – while unique to each person – their visions are not ludicrous or out of sight. They may not be easy, which is why initiative and faith are so important.
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