Commentary by Ramon Rodriguez
For the majority of my adult life, I’ve heard numerous stories from various family and friends, usually, at a bbq and other social gatherings. One thing I’ve learned, in listening to each and every individual perspective, is that some are funny and some are meant to teach valuable lessons for the younger generations. Lessons, primarily, for what to expect later in the trials and tribulations we call life.
For instance, one dad shared his experience in which he, once, bought a car for one of his children. Roughly, , it was brought back with a distinct, knocking sound, bald tires, along with an ungrateful complaint for the terrible gift he had received. After a little bit of work, he explained to his kid that it wasn’t the car, it was the lack of maintenance that its new owner refused to provide. “That goes for anything,” he said. “You want something to last? You have to maintain it and don’t expect someone else to do it for you.”
Not too long after that story, I was at another family gathering, huddled around the bbq grill, when the conversation quickly turned to complaints regarding jury duty. There was talk that big cases ended in a way they didn’t agree with which, ultimately, led to placing blame on the judicial system. Surprisingly enough, though, most of them admitted that they do their best to get out of jury duty by any and all means possible. “You can’t maintain your judicial system if most people work to get out of it,” I thought to myself.
So, now, this leads to an even bigger issue at these gatherings: if politics comes up (and, it usually does), I find that most people will take all of their disagreements about the ways things are governed as a way to avoid voting, altogether. Equally, I have been surprised to find that these same people can hold two positions in life: that all things in life must be maintained to let’s just throw all of our hands in the air and give it all up.
Truth be told, I didn’t always care to be involved in the political scene. But, somewhere, in all the stories received over time, it just clicked. No matter how boring or exhausting things get, in order to keep and sustain a healthy and just democracy, we have to be willing to put forth the effort to maintain it at all times. Voting, volunteering, such as canvassing and phone banking, are all part of the systematic steps required to achieve a healthy democracy around us.
So, really, it’s up to you. Each one of us has the potential and the ability to make change. No matter how small you think it may be, it all starts with you. Do you want to arrive, in life, with that distinct, knocking sound and balding tires with the very clear notion that it’s bound to fall apart, in due time? Or, are you going to work to maintain the necessary components to keep the system just and smoothly running? I’m not sure what it’s going to take for some to make the connection to act. Maybe, it’s going to take the right story, the right experience, or the right injustice? By then, however, it may be too late to work in your favor.
Ramon Rodriguez, his wife, and two sons live in Labelle, Hendry County, where Ramon works as a Telecommunications Technician.