November 27, 2004

Spirit Of The Season

Partial quote from Tom Vilsack's radio address today:

...At these holiday meals, you enjoy the company you have, but you can't help but think of those not present or no longer here. How many families with young men and women in the service of our country and those in harm's way experienced similar thoughts?

As we think about all of our blessings, we should always stop and say thank you for all those who have served to make America strong and secure. Our prayers should include those who have lost their lives and the families left behind and those who have been injured and the difficult times that lie ahead for them as they rehabilitate their lives.

With these thoughts and prayers, we should rededicate ourselves to ensuring that all who served our country receive the health and income benefits they've earned by their service.

The men and women serving in our armed forces, in our police and sheriff departments, in our fire stations, represent what is best in all of us: the willingness to serve in sacrifice for a better America. Their example calls all of us to a similar duty.

My parents used to remind me and now I remind my sons, To whom much is given, much is expected. As we count our blessings, may each of us reach out to those in need. As we give thanks for those who have served in sacrifice, may we also look for how we too may serve in sacrifice for our country. In doing so, we keep alive America's promise and give full meaning to Thanksgiving. ...

Democratic values on display. I'm glad Vilsack pulled out of the DNC Chair contest, but this is exactly what Democrats need to be saying. Not just until we win back control of a branch of government, but as a permanent center for our message.

Steve Gilliard wrote a great essay the other day about positive purchasing habits and engaging in community service that builds on the theme:

...2) Give positively

Supporting the USO and injured soldiers is a positive activity. One which celebrates the season and makes a point about the war. We haven't forgotten the wounded and damaged. Volunteering at the local VA or homeless shelter does the same thing. Support the poor and desperate in a meaningful, generous way. You can get a dig in, if you need to, but help people first. Hard hearts help no one. Toys for Tots is another positive act.

3) Do charity work

If you're a member of a meetup or Democracy for America chapter, do something positive. Hold a party for foster kids or pregnant teens. Do an event at an elder center. The idea is not to push politics, but to be seen as active members of the community. Be public minded citizens, and make it clear that you're doing your civic duty. Of course, shirts with donkeys on them wouldn't kill. I remember reading about a Dean for America chapter which cleaned up a park. That's the kind of thing people need to carry forward.

My point is that we need to start demonstrating our beliefs. If we want a better America, one where cruelty isn't in fashion, we need to do things which represent our values. Positive, helpful things which make us look like civic minded citizens who care about their community. I've seen how negative talk paralyzes a community, and fossilizes discussion. It eventually makes those people irrelevant as well. We need to represent a positive face to the community. Get positive stories out there about groups of Democrats helping people who need it.

...Politics is public service. You can't change minds when all people see are sterotypes. Sure, some people may refuse. And some people may be too pissed to do this. But when was the last time political people helped anyone but themselves? If you help people's kids, they may actually listen to you when other things come up.

...If you've never been poor and alone, you have no idea what a single act of kindness can mean to a desperate mom and her kids. Christmas is a hard time for them in this society, seeing things they can't afford. An act of kindness is not only a good thing, it also says they're not alone, that more than the church cares for them. ...

During the primaries, one of the ideas that I thought was most worthy of being carried on past the election and adopted by the party at large was DeanCorps. Democratic values could best be summed up by the themes of charity and good works, and conservatives have relentlessly worked to make liberal ideas about helping others sound like an inherently false ploy worthy only of contempt.

Wouldn't it be great if contempt was reserved for those who sneer at the very idea of public service? Take the first step, support the troops with things they really need this holiday season.

Posted by natasha at November 27, 2004 02:07 PM | Community | Technorati links |