“Dammit I'm scared” should be our signal to act.
The problem is most of us don't even recognize when we are stopped by fear. We give it nice new names and make up beautiful stories, like “I'm too shy” or “I wouldn't want to offend people” or “We shouldn't make someone else feel uncomfortable.” Our “barbaric Yawp” has been stifled by our fear of failure, our fear of not looking good, thousands of nos and shoulds and shouldn'ts, and lots of - way too much - “practical advice.”
Our fire, our passion, our desire to wake up in the morning can and will be kindled again. It will start with a relaxing of the standards and a return of the greats, of parents reading to their children without any aim but their mutual enjoyment, of teachers hauling out a tattered old book of poetry and reading without a test in mind, of children learning to imagine that the homeless person on the corner was once a child much as they are, of people recording or sharing their ideas. Indeed, it has started, in thousands of blog posts and huge communities of people sharing themselves and getting that who they are, quirks and idiosyncracies included, can be and is an amazing and unique contribution to the world.
But for every conversation for possibility, there are probably ten of resignation, lost hope, and missed dreams. It is these we are going to put back in their place. We do not come to you with platitudes of “hope and change,” hoping the next president will make things change so our lives will be better. Rather we intend to revisit Mr. Kennedy's exhortation “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” But perhaps for some of us, this is a step too far; let us start with asking what you can do for yourself.
To put this in better context, this was originally posted at Herz for President, but I realize the call to action is to our personal lives, with a hope that the personal realization of our hopes and dreams will lead to a bolder and greater future for society as a whole.