Our American Story

Tuesday night, like many of you, I watched the President’s State of the Union address.  I watched and listened closely, thought about what was said, formed my own opinions and then watched Senator Marco Rubio provide the Republican take on the President’s report.  After Senator Rubio was finished, I reluctantly watched to a few of the political “talking heads” providing their “non-partisan” views and then went to bed.

The next morning I caught a train to Washington, D.C. for some meetings relating to CEDI, the Citizens Economic Development Initiative.  On the ride down to the capitol, I basically eavesdropped on some of my fellow travelers and heard various comments about the President’s speech.  Some folks were quite irritated and upset with the presentation while others were excited about the prospects for positive outcomes relating to the various items that may have pertained to them.

I then dug into my stack of morning newspapers as well as the many updates that I had waiting for me on my iPad from all of the other news sources that I obsessively read on a daily basis.  What I read was essentially the same opinions and remarks that I was hearing from the passengers on the Acela Express to Washington.  I suppose that what was in print was possibly a bit more informed or at least better researched and presented, but in the end I was getting the same feelings from all sources.

If you were on the Republican side of the aisle, then you were taking a position that was pretty much the opposite of those that were on the Democratic side of the aisle.  It is pretty rare these days that we ever hear someone say, “Hey, you know that person has a pretty good idea, let’s look into that”.  We are so programmed to follow a party line that we often miss opportunities to come up with solutions for most of our issues.

Well, it is now Thursday evening and I have had a chance to listen or read a few more opinions about the State of the Union presentation and realized that most of the address was about things that Washington “would have, should have or could have done” or what it is going to do or would at least like to do.  Not to offend the President, but his “new” ideas really are not very new at all and it is pretty hard to get excited about any of these concepts when these two political parties don’t seem too interested in working towards collaborative solutions.

So, I have come to the conclusion that what moved me the most during the State of the Union were two simple lines of the address.  The following are excerpts from the address:

“That the responsibility of improving this union remains the task of us all”. 

“It remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter of our American story”. 

Yes, these are the two lines that I found to be most relevant.  Sorry, no political intrigue or grand position on any specific issues.  What I find most relevant is this:  we the people really do hold the cards in this country.  We collectively, and therefore individually, have the power to direct our country’s future.  It is called voting.

We all have the right to vote for the course of action for our country.  What we need to work on actually understands what we are voting for regardless of whether it is a governing issue or the election of an official to represent our views.  We all need to take the time to learn about the issues and/or the officials that determine the path that our country takes.

We are far too often voting by impulse, emotion and party line.  We need to understand that regardless of our political beliefs, the “other side” actually has a view.  They actually have information and concepts that just may be relevant or even helpful to moving an issue forward.

We live in a country of over 313 million people.  We are never going to all agree on all of the same issues and concepts.  Now in my view, there is real value in this.  In business I am very interested in what my employees or competitors views are.  This gives me the opportunity to see what I am doing in a different light and allows me to make adjustments to issues that I did not see.  I just needed to open my eyes to these other ideas and see how I could integrate those ideas into a concept that may serve a wider audience for my business.  Sounds pretty good to me!

The other point that I take from those two lines is that we can disagree or even dislike what goes on in government, but the sun still comes up the next morning.  We cannot wait for our elected officials to all of a sudden “get it right”.  We have to take our futures into our own hands.  We may have to move forward with rules and regulations that make things difficult, but we have to move forward nonetheless. We all can contribute towards the betterment of our country, state, region, city or community regardless of our socio-economic status.  Every effort counts.

If we find ways to work together, we truly can be the “authors of the next great chapter of our American story”