Future, bright and shining

Last week, I was helping a customer with an order when she asked me how much power I held at work. Truthfully, I told her that the corporation dictated everything, I only did what I was told.

She nodded in comprehension, then suggested I become a politician.

A young man needed to become a politician, she said, if he could affect change on this world. A young man needs to protect his future, his family. He can only do this by influencing the governing power.

As she talked I thought about quitting my job to take a low-level government job, work my way up the municipal ladder and secure the future for my children. I have never been more politically moved. I truly believed this woman was right. But, would I really follow her advice?

I was always told that the future held untold possibilities. I could become anything I wanted: mechanic, farmer, engineer, doctor, lawyer, or even the president. This country once allowed a man to rise against social and economical constraints. A man could become a leader of real power and integrity. What is stopping me from becoming that? Why would I not become that?

I have always wanted to become a teacher. I wanted to be a driving force of stability for those too young to defend themselves during the most turbulent years of their life. This seemed the best way to change a generation. I could educate and indoctrinate the next group of leaders. Ethics would not be lost upon them, intelligence would not be hated, and compassion would always be encouraged. I would be a beacon of light in an alienating and belittling world. My lessons would help the next generation reclaim the positive elements of this country.

Teaching seems a more attainable goal than political leader. I know I could teach. I find the work easy and rewarding. Yet, the more I think of it, would teaching just be another act of handing responsibility over to the next generation?

I am sick of the general attitude of this country, where we make the easy decision and leave future generations to clean up the resulting mess. The anti-war movement may have ended Vietnam, but it did not end military action. Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton made questionable military actions, each of which brought us to this point in history, which seems to demand immediate attention. We need people who will resolve the problems of today. The compound interest on the ignored problems of the past have caught up. America is a much different place than it was 10 or 20 years ago.

We live in fear of terrorism, a government expanding its tyrannical powers, dwindling resources, and rigid establishments difficult to break into. How can a young man break into the business of government without proper education? I have trained for education, is it too late to become a politician? Is it too late to fix this country I love? I hope not and I hope to dear God that those of my peers who have decided to become lawyers and politicians look at the current group of "leaders" and decide to hold true to integrity, compassion, and freedom.

With the overturning of the House and Senate, I sense a change is coming. A political movement is happening before our eyes. Anything could happen. We could be attacked again. More of our rights could be stripped away in the name of enforcing safety. Anything can happen. True leaders intelligent and empathetic could come into power. We could revive Social Security and guarantee retirement for those who earn it. Anything could happen.

A beeping sound, high and shrill, disrupted my thoughts. I discovered myself still checking out items at the register. The woman who had deeply moved me smiled. I nodded, almost in beat with the beeping of the scanning of her items. She wanted something more from me. She expected more from the future. She knew I had potential. She knew I could change the world. What was she expecting from me?

I looked her in the eye and asked, "Would you like paper or plastic?"

is a graduate of Southern Oregon University with a degree in English. He lives in Ashland with his fianc&


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