Monday, August 3, 2009

Welcome to the Jungle …

…Well maybe not the jungle, but maybe welcome to the hiking trail.  I am Jim, I am a part time hiker, full time teacher and I love to hunt political animals.  I draw the title of my blog from two things we all need in our lives.

Fresh Air: we all need to breathe.  I especially love getting out to remote hiking trails away from the city where the air is a little clearer.  I plant a garden every year (this year excepted since the growing season was screwed up by a non-existent spring).  I used to keep indoor plants, but indoor plants and cats don’t always mix well.

Common Sense: a good friend of mine has a blog icon that says “common sense ain’t so common”.  Sure, it is an old saying, but it is very true.  Common sense is needed in all things: our personal lives, parenting, education, government and politics.

We need common sense in our personal lives.  I have had to learn to step back from situations and relationships which were adding stress and pain to my life.  This is something I have not always been good at doing.  I need to continue working on this.  I also need to make healthier choices in my life.

We all need common sense as parents.  I was a parent for five glorious years to two wonderful girls (my ex-wife came fully equipped).  In that time I made mistakes, and I learned a lot.  At the same time I was beginning a new career as a teacher, and the  two experiences went together quite nicely, I learned so much from both of those experiences.

Common sense is needed in education.  Speaking from experience, there is little common sense in how education is perceived, performed and paid for.  The public at large has little understanding of the issues in education.  Special education, broken families, over-involved parents, under-involved parents and unmotivated students.  These are just a few of the challenges faced by public education systems.  On top of that, pile on budget problems, overactive lawyers, monolithic unions, unrealistic expectations of political and educational leaders and the occasional teacher looking forward more to retirement than the next day of teaching.

Common sense seems totally absent in government and politics these days.  We are spending ourselves into oblivion and we have an “opposition” party that can’t seem to get past a silly issue like a certified birth certificate and talking about their high and lofty “ideals”.  Memo to the idiots in the minority: the people don’t want ideals or principles, they want to know what you are going to DO.  This is why you are in the minority.  You spent eight years talking ideals while the other guys were talking programs.  However, as Davy Crockett once said (the quote is often attributed to Thomas Jefferson; it was quoted by Gerald Ford in an address to  a joint session of Congress in 1974 and may also have been quoted by Barry Goldwater): “A government that is big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have.”

There are four things we need in order to have a healthy, functioning participatory democratic republic: two lively political parties able to argue both ideas and initiatives, a truly independent media that investigates and reports on what the government is doing, an educated, engaged electorate, and finally common sense.

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