Monday, July 25, 2005

Apathy of our youth dilutes effectiveness of democracy



"She said change will only come when young people insist upon it"

WELL WHILE MOST OF TODAY’S YOUTH ARE GETTING DRUNK, TALKING ALL DAMM DAY ON A CELL PHONE (ABOUT NOTHING) AND SPENDING MONEY THEY DON’T HAVE, IT'S A RECIPE FOR APATHY.
POLITICIANS KNOW THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH MORE TODAY BECAUSE MANY YOUNG ADULTS TODAY ARE JUST PLAIN DUMB AND SELFISH.
THEY ARE NOT PAYING ATTENTION.
YOUTH HERE IN LAWRENCE CARED MORE ABOUT THE SMOKING BAN THAN THEY DID ABOUT FUNDING FOR EDUCATION OR TAX INCREASES.
MANY WHO SPEND TIME ON THE BLOGS BITCHING ABOUT BUSH I BET DID NOT EVEN VOTE. OH WELL……..YOU YOUNG FOLK BETTER GO CATCH THAT SALE AT THE GAP…..


KANSAS CITY STAR
Too many people are apathetic and uninvolved. They need to know that our democracy is a participatory, high impact, heavy contact sport.

The history arrived in the mail and like fireworks expressed the best of what our Independence Day should embody.

Betty Dawson, 70, shared it after a 12-year-old boy she knows questioned why she got worked up about President Bush and today’s politics. Dawson, who lives in Johnson County, wrote in a note that the boy said: “Why do you care? You’ll be dead in two years.”

She was still reeling from that when we talked. Her package in the mail followed. It included letters to her from congressmen, senators and the White House on her ’60s, ’70s and ’80s activism.

The history was amazing. It encompassed the civil-rights movement, the Vietnam War, welfare reduction, the draft, the environment, Africa, world hunger, funding for the arts, the United Nations, the Equal Rights Amendment, women’s reproductive rights, oil, cancer research, genocide and government funding for the military instead of better health and housing.

Many of the letters could have been written about today’s problems with a few name changes. Vietnam could be replaced by Iraq and Afghanistan, and President Richard Nixon could be changed to Bush. Dawson said she hung on to the letters so they would be around for her descendents to read 100 years from now.

They’ll know that she existed and know that she cared about what was going on in our time.

“I just have to do it,” Dawson said. “When I see what seems to me an injustice, I have to speak out. I think about 1930s Germany and how people, probably good people, didn’t speak out, and their Jewish neighbors were taken away.”

The retired nurse has remained an active letter writer to help tell elected officials what the people really want. She had written to Sen. James B. Pearson of Kansas about civil rights before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

He wrote back in a March 18, 1964, letter saying: “The bill now before the United States Senate is very broad and complicated. It is also controversial as any legislation would be which touches upon so many aspects of individual liberty and property rights.

“Such legislation involves a complicated combination of moral concepts, political philosophies and legal rights. It attempts to deal with problems which are real but difficult to solve.”

Pearson noted that he had supported such legislation in the past and intended to do so on the pending bill.

Many of Dawson’s letters in the 1960s and 1970s also covered the Vietnam War. She received several pieces of correspondence in the 1970s from then-Sen. Bob Dole and Pearson telling her of their faith in Nixon and his plan to bring U.S. troops home.

Dawson wrote to many top U.S. corporate officials in the 1970s that supplied weapons during the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. She got correspondence back from several including DuPont, Westinghouse, General Motors, Motorola, Ratheon and Ford.

The executives said their companies were good corporate citizens. Most of their products were for everyday use by U.S. residents. However, the goods they supplied the U.S. military were directed toward world peace.

But Dawson said she knows people’s involvement helped get U.S. troops out of Vietnam. The same groundswell needs to happen to get our troops out of Iraq.

Dawson said a counselor advised her not to get so upset about things. Dawson said, “As far as I’m concerned, that’s what’s wrong.”

Too many people are apathetic and uninvolved. They need to know that our democracy is a participatory, high impact, heavy contact sport. Unless people are on the playing field getting dirty, the nation will go in a direction they won’t like. Too many people are disinterested or too “busy” to be bothered.

“Everyone walks around with cell phones plugged into their ears,” said Dawson, who volunteers at Kansas City International Airport. “We need to be in the now. But how can we be in the now when we’re on the phone?”

She said change will only come when young people insist upon it as she and people in her generation did decades ago.

“It’s not ours anymore,” Dawson said. “It’s the younger generation that’s got to quit thinking about their $400,000 houses and $50,000 cars and their cell phones and computers. Until that happens, we are lost.”

If younger people will pay attention, good citizens like Dawson still are more than willing to teach.

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