The Gravity of Self-Government

Part of my “Article of the Month” series in 2000

“Every citizen owes to the country a vigilant watch and close scrutiny of its public servants and reasonable estimate of their fidelity and usefulness.”
— Grover Cleveland

The notion of self-governing is a curiously empowering tenet the Founding Fathers set forth so many years ago. What a radical shift in political direction they initiated in 1776, a rift in ideals between the Old World and the New.

Those ideals did not come cheaply. These spacious skies and amber waves have literally been paved in blood. The shedding of American blood has, for the most part, been voluntary and gracious. It is to this honor that we owe our involvement, however minor the role, however insignificant it might seem in comparison.

I think that many in my generation feel so disillusioned by their leaders — as if to render them disenfranchised — that a different sort of rift has split open. It’s one of bitterness, of cynicism that we inherited from our parent’s rebellious generation and theirs before them. In fact, this country was founded on a fiercely rebellious and stubborn nature. So we shouldn’t be surprised that these traits are passed down.

Still, when a whole generation of people are raised without conflict, without the need to prove with our own blood and sweat the necessity for freedom, we take for granted the sacrifices of yesteryear. All the more reason that ours is a generation most needy of self-actualization in self-government. To sustain our standards of living, to maintain our sense of values, to preserve our national well being, the governed are the governing in democracy.

Democracy demands involvement. An active role doesn’t have to be running for office or campaigning on the stump. It can be as meager as casting that vote. I’ll see you at the booth.

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