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Change begins with us

Our View: Hope

Posted: January 19, 2009 8:48 p.m.
Updated: January 20, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Hope and change.

That was the ideological fuel behind President Barack Obama's campaign, and few can deny the power his rhetoric had to stir even staunch disbelievers.

Yet rhetoric does not equal action.

We stand at an intersection today as a nation - on the heels of Monday's National Day of Service and observance of Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy, as we witness this morning's inauguration of a new president.

Much has been said, much has been promised, much has been hoped for from this administration.

How the next four years play out remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure.

America does not run on hope and change alone.

To be honest, some days it gets harder and harder to believe in change of any kind.

The economy is in a tailspin. More and more Americans are losing their jobs. War in the Middle East drags on, sucking away billions of dollars.

California faces a $42 billion deficit because our legislators have yet to get their acts together and balance the budget. The list could go on and on.

What are we, as a nation - a community of Americans - to do?

Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, we should not have faith in our government alone to effect change.

Now is the time for each American to shoulder personal responsibility for the change we need.

It means learning how to live below our means.

It means keeping our elected officials accountable, and holding their feet to the fire when necessary.

California has the highest-paid lawmakers in the country. They make a $116,208 annual salary, plus they receive $173 for daily expenses - collecting an additional $34,680 on average per year.

Perhaps it's time we heap a little more shame and responsibility on their heads for not cutting back while the rest of us are struggling.

Indeed, we live in a free-market economy where there's nothing wrong with being successful and making money. But maybe it's time for executives to slim down their fat paychecks. Maybe it's time for unions to stand together and decide not to take pay raises.

And at the risk of sounding like a mob of spread-the-wealth-around, Marx-quoting softies, maybe - while we're all tightening our financial belts - we need to still find ways to aid those even less fortunate than ourselves.

Hope and change.

The spark of American ideals at times seems threatened by the gathering darkness of reality and the cold winds of apathy.

But there is the hope we can each blow upon the embers of personal responsibility to fan the flames of an American resurgence.

Change begins with each of us.

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