Saturday, October 12, 2013

Why I Am Optimistic About Our Nation's Future

Seems like an odd title when you listen to the news today.  That is the feeling that many of my students felt when they were faced with the task of creating a speech over the assigned Voice of Democracy speech connected with the VFW.  I heard the complaint that there was nothing to be optimistic about in our country when you are hearing news of government shutdown, debt default, and being told by media and parents that Obama is coming to take away your guns.  I understand my students frustration.  We have become a society that seems hyper-focused on pitting one group against another and turning everything into doom and gloom.

However several other students reminded them and me that there is something of which to be optimistic.  This is a country that allows you to disagree with your leaders.  This is a country that allows us to change our leaders.  This is still the country that leads the world in technology.  This is still a country that encourages education for the masses and not the select few.  This is still a country that has millions of people willing to join the armed forces to defend the nation.  This is the country that has emerged from a civil war, a great depression, and 9/11 to come out stronger in the end.

It seems that the nation is also feeling like many of my earlier students who had a difficult time being optimistic.
Six in 10 people said they would defeat and replace every member of Congress if they could, including their own, a warning to members of both parties just a year before the midterm elections. 
Fewer people seem willing to sign up for military duty as a 2011 survey concludes:
At any given time in the past decade, less than 1 percent of the American population has been on active military duty, compared with 9 percent of Americans who were in uniform in World War II. 
Despite all of the signs of frustration, I am optimistic because I get a chance to work with some fine students.  Students that remind me every day about the ability of grace toward others, students that remind me that despite facing a challenge you can face it head on, and students that may have failings at time, but hopefully will grow out of it in the years left with school.  On good days I can remember that, and I bad days I may focus on the negative, but in the end there are more good days than bad days.


  1. WOW!!
    I am an English teacher in a small school in Southeast Missouri. I just had a student doing research for his Voice of Democracy essay say "Ms. White, you need to read this blog. It sound exactly like you wrote it!"
    So I dutifully read this blog and my student was correct. I said the exact same things to my class that you have written here. When we began this project, I told my students that the theme this year was ironic, but assured them that it had been picked long before the drama with the government began this year. I also had them to talk to three adults to get some ideas. Sadly, very few adults had anything positive to say. You have given me hope that there are more of us with a positive hope for our children's future.


  2. Thanks for your comment. I have done the Voice of Democracy now in my speech class the last six years. In the past there has always been some balking at the assignment, but it was usually because the topic was something that the students couldn't fully understand. This topic offered to be so straight forward, but there is such a negative vibe about everything. The good news was that I had several students come up with some great examples and things to say. Good luck with the speech.