I read the “Citizenship and Consciences” column in the Nov. 14 edition of the Powell Tribune more than once and eagerly began researching some supplemental information …
I read the “Citizenship and Consciences” column in the Nov. 14 edition of the Powell Tribune more than once and eagerly began researching some supplemental information online. I searched for articles that would help me better comprehend our country’s vision and mission, as a nation, to bring peace and prosperity to the world.
As I studied some references, I couldn’t help but think that in a more perfect world everyone would be pleased to share the same level of security and opportunities many United States citizens might take for granted everyday.
I have been privileged to serve in foreign lands myself. I lived in the Azores and Turkey as a service member and took the opportunity to befriend the citizens of those countries and appreciate their positive cultural characteristics.
My long-time friend from Turkey is basically satisfied with his country, similarly to how I feel about the United States. This good buddy of mine has, once or twice, told me that he doesn’t feel he has always been treated fairly in his native land, but he still loves his country.
As I again looked at the opinion piece in the paper, I wondered what best practices could exist that would significantly improve the national policies of our government. I understood there is no magical, simple answers available.
Furthermore, one might ask: Should we completely shun other countries when they are not being governed under a democratic system like ours? Or should we seek to be their friends, in spite of all the reported, offensive practices of their government leaders.
Our national security posture appears to be far more fragile and vulnerable in the 21st century. Therefore the job of our government seems far more complicated today than in the past.
So what is the average citizen supposed to do differently? Maybe the answer exists if the average person takes time to study the attributes of candidates and demonstrate their valiant choices at the ballot box.
Ultimately I did reflect on my past a little as I searched for an answer to these civics questions.
One of my experiences I had, while vacationing in Germany with my family, helped me learn, firsthand, that, it was primarily up to each of us, as individuals, to make appropriate choices. We took this long trip through the so-called Russian Sector of Berlin where there were armed Russian soldiers visible outside the windows of the train as we sped toward our destination.
We children were not, at that time, aware of the serious issues in Russia and we were not experts on the Cold War either. So when we saw Russian soldiers standing with their rifles shouldered, we decided to wave at them. And it was such a happy thing to see these people smile and wave back at us. The bayonets on their rifles did not stop us from reaching out to them.
Our government is most likely, on a more involved, professional level, doing about the same thing.
Soon, our family was riding through Checkpoint Charlie located at the Berlin Wall and learning that President John F. Kennedy had recently given a speech nearby that urged the East Germans and the Soviet Union to tear down that concrete and barbed wire wall that separated the German people of East and West Berlin. Also, we heard the stories about the people who had died trying to escape East Germany. Their memorials were in plain sight along the barriers there near Checkpoint Charlie.
Later, when I, too, served our country in foreign lands I discovered that it was pretty clear to see that the common citizens in the world all shared the same desires U.S. citizens have. They, too, wanted to feel safe in a home and to possess the resources to properly feed and clothe their children — just like us. They also wanted to have business opportunities and be self-reliant so they had enough to provide for their needs.
So theoretically, if our government officials chose to be adversarial toward foreign governments rather than seeking good, friendly relations with people from other countries, would that serve the interests of the United States and other benevolent countries in the world who are seeking peace and tranquility?
A person close to me said it very plainly. What right do any of us have to judge others without really knowing them and walking in their shoes, so-to-speak?
In retrospect, I am thankful that this opinion article helped me think about the situations in the world. After I grew up, I was not as naive to think that everyone around me shared my aspirations to make the world a better place. I no longer possessed the same childish beliefs that existed when I visited Berlin in the 1960s.
What I do know is that I still lean towards the same high level of determination to be friendly that I felt when I saw those Russians near the railroad track leading to Berlin. Even though, as an adult, I see the realities of the divisive political climate that exists today, I have faith that things can get better if we each do our part to continue supporting each other.
Moreover, I happily welcome the opportunity to continue striving to be a better citizen and do everything I can to make our country a better, more God fearing nation that respects the rights of all people; while still defending and protecting the civil rights of our U.S. citizens and way of life. I am also so grateful to be living in a free country that still strives to preserve the inspired U.S. Constitution that guarantees the inherent rights of individuals like all the great people in our local communities.
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