I should have known not to ask, but I couldn’t help myself. I had to take the opportunity to speak with a friend who’d been following the progress healthcare reform was making in Washington D.C. To my surprise she was very unhappy, comparing Obama to George W. Bush. “He’s sold out to the lobbyists,” she snarled. “My Medicare benefits will be cut and we have to pay top dollar for drugs…he’s sold us out, that Obama” as she took a drag from her cigarette. In that moment thousands of thoughts ran across my mind.
President Obama promised change and we elected him because we wanted change. However, we’ve been remiss in doing our part, the part that we need to do outside of the voting booth. If we are to create systemic change, we ourselves must be willing to participate in new ways. If we desire to change the way business is done in Washington we have an opportunity to learn and participate in ways that extend beyond elections. The idea that voting is our greatest act of democracy is obsolete.
Creating real change requires that each of us do our part. We can’t expect one man, even the president, to magically change our nation in the blink of an eye. It’s our responsibility as citizens to understand how our government works and what is realistically possible. As mature adults, we can accept the reality of a complex, even a convoluted political system. Within the confines of that system, it’s up to us to take responsibility for achieving what we desire. We can begin by working as partners with elected officials, corporations, communities and one another to create a nation that works for all its citizens.
What else can we do, if we are not happy with what is transpiring in Washington? First, we can accept that our choices impact the greater good. As my friend complained about health reform while smoking her cigarette, I wondered how many Americans are sitting by, paying no attention to the bad choices they themselves are making. Complaints are simply requests stated backwards. When we examine our complaints, we see that they’re really an articulation of what we truly desire and what we can do to create the world we envision. If my friend had asked me, and she did not, I’d suggest she take control of her own health—before criticizing the president and the government for inadequate healthcare—stop smoking! Why would we think our elected officials have a greater responsibility to us than we ourselves have? Why would we expect anything of them that we ourselves are not willing to do? Healthcare reform is about you and me, we own this issue. Individually we can transform this issue by exercising, cooking at home, positive thinking and creating new, life-affirming habits. We don’t have time to complain at such a pivotal time in our nation. We must engage at every level. Change on the inside will surely create the real change we desire in Washington.
As a personal growth consultant, I’ve learned from my clients that blaming and complaining are simply opportunities to discover what we truly desire. We have the ability, if we’ll use it, to take the lead in making those desires become realities. Yes, we still can.
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