If it seems things have gotten more confusing over the years it should not be surprising.
Some of us expected we would not like the “change” that would attempt to fundamentally transform America, but I think many more who voted for change, did not think the change we are living with now is the change they were waiting for.
We were told by candidate Barack Obama in 2008:
"We can't drive our SUVs and, you know, eat as much as we want and keep our homes on, you know, 72 degrees at all times, whether we're living in the desert or we're living in the tundra, and then just expect every other country is going to say OK, you know, you guys go ahead keep on using 25 percent of the world's energy, even though you only account for 3 percent of the population, and we'll be fine. Don't worry about us. That's not leadership.”
But most didn’t hear much of what was said because they didn’t listen.
Many Americans at election time hear what they want the candidate to say, not what the candidate is actually saying. Those seeking office tell prospective voters a lot of things. Too often they tell different groups different things, and when meanings of words are in flux that helps aspirants.
What exactly did “change” mean again? It is a word that can mean many things to many different people.
As beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder, so too is change. Beauty depends on who is looking and change depends on who is hearing. Every election, candidates talk about change. If you listen carefully and do not just hear their words you may understand what they are really saying.
When I was 17, my grandfather asked me who I might select for president if I could vote. I chose the candidate of the opposite party of who was in office and gave the reason as “change.” It would be good to have a change I said.
My grandfather said, “Change for change’s sake alone is not a good reason.”
He told me to be sure I understood what the change was, before thinking it was a good thing. Whenever I hear the word change, I remember what my grandfather told me. I wish more voters would follow that advice.
It is important for citizens to pay close attention. Change may come quickly, but if it comes slowly it may not be noticed until it is in place. Once a fundamental transformation has been completed, or is near completion, it will be difficult to return to the post-transformative state.
I recently read a book that worried me. “Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution” by Ji-li Jiang is the personal story of the author who was a 12-year-old girl when China’s Cultural Revolution began in 1966. It is chilling to read Ji-li’s story and experience the harsh transformation of a society as told by someone who lived it.
Ji-li describes the daily radio broadcasts by Chairman Mao that spoke about the evils of the old ideas, old culture, old customs, and old habits. They were called the “Four Olds” and to build a strong socialist country the “Four Olds” had to be destroyed and the “Four News” had to be established. Families who had been property owners were suddenly labeled and shunned. Ji-li’s grandfather had been a landlord, and even though he was now dead, her family was marked.
Neighborhood Dictatorship Groups would patrol neighborhoods and determine which families would be singled out and have their personal property removed from their homes if it was deemed to be “Four Old” or was gained through capitalistic means. People were shamed and publicly humiliated. If they did not submit to the new thinking, they were physically brutalized.
This book made me remember when America used to warn about the evils of Communism and what an undesirable system it is to live under. We must remind our fellow Americans and the next generation that societies have been fundamentally transformed and not always for the better. We must focus on where the change the political candidates speak of today will lead us. We must not vote and live blindly. If we do, we may find ourselves in a country we no longer understand or want to live in.
Diana Erbio is a freelance writer who lives on Long Island. She is a regular contributor to Association of Mature American Citizens. Diana recently published a book, "Coming to America: A Girl Struggles to Find her Way in a New World."
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