Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What Your Great-Grandpa Thinks You Ought to Know about America

“My ‘American Dream’ is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” –James Truslow Adams

Photo credit: Tomek Waleki
I am an American military service member.  Before I was in the military, I was simply an American.  Call me old-fashioned if you wish, but she is very special to me.  She was a mother who raised me, a mentor who guided me, and now she is an ailing lady in need of care.  Please understand this: I take great offense at anyone who would seek to wrongfully take advantage of her.

America is known as the land of opportunity, but many see her and treat her as a never-ending fountain of entitlement.  From poorly managed and badly abused welfare programs that are neck-deep in bureaucratic red tape and paperwork, to trillions of dollars in annual deficit spending, the people out there who don’t want something for nothing are seriously in the minority.

With this in mind, I humbly offer you six pieces of advice you would have received from your great-grandfather.

·      Get your body out of bed!  Do you want to know why the Army did, “more before 9am than most people do all day?”  THEY GOT UP AT 4AM!!! (they often got up much, much earlier)  If your first action each day is fighting with yourself to get out of bed and playing ping-pong with the snooze button, you are losing some of the best and most productive hours of your day.

·      Get your body in bed!  Turn off the TV (cancelling cable is one of the best moves we ever made) and set a drop-dead time for any work or activities you are doing… they will still be there tomorrow, trust me!  Without proper rest, you won’t have the mental clarity or the physical stamina to go after your opportunities.

·      Quit eating like an idiot!  Eating like an idiot is less what you eat and more what you know about the food you eat.  If you don’t fuel your body properly, you won’t have the mental clarity or the physical stamina to go after your opportunities (notice the pattern).  Seek out information on what you put into your body.

I’m not going to tell you the best things to eat.  The most I will do is point you in the direction of a resource that I’ve used and shout, “GO!”  Just go to your favorite search engine and type in, “Healthy Skeptic 9 Steps to Perfect Health”.

Please search far beyond that on your own.  Your great-grandpa would want you to.  Eating like an idiot is just one symptom of having a large sense of entitlement.

·      Live on Less than You Make and Plan for Your Own Retirement!  If you are in trouble and genuinely need help, I’m there for you.  If you rack up credit card debt, student loan debt, auto debt, and all other sorts of debt, and you overextend yourself far beyond your income, you are not entitled to a comfortable retirement and America is not responsible for providing you one.  You can’t continually live on more than you make, and neither can America.  It has never been sustainable!

·      Vote & get involved, and do it more locally than nationally!  The people who matter the most are the ones closest to you.  Your city council and mayor have far more influence in your community (and, thus, in your life) than your President or Congressional Representative!  I’m not saying that national political office is unimportant.  What I am saying is that local political office is MORE important.

·      Get out of your shell and HELP PEOPLE!  Regardless of your faith, everyone has a civic duty to help those who are down on their luck.  It should start with your immediate family, extend to your friends and local community, and go outward from there.

Look, if you can’t pay your light bill, your cupboards are bare, and you are scraping together every dime you can to get through the month, no one is expecting charity from you... you are the less fortunate.  But if you are gainfully employed, have discretionary income, and you are not helping those in need… what is wrong with you?!?  The only reason that we are in a welfare and social security state is because of people not helping people!

This next statement isn’t going to win me many friends, but I’m making it anyway: If you are not setting aside at least 10% of your monthly take-home income to help those less fortunate than yourself, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM!!!

My beloved America has been wounded many times.  Each time she has healed, it has been because of people who stood up and took the opportunity to make real changes.  The pieces of advice I listed were in that particular order for a reason: You have to take responsibility for your own life first before you can help change the world.

What advice would your great-grandfather have given?


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