I grew up in a small college town. We lived half-way down a dead-end street, across from the college where my father was a professor. From our house, the steep hill to the top of road appeared daunting.
In the fall of 1974, I was seven years old, the same age as my daughter today. I can remember walking the top of the road to Maple Street, the main thoroughfare, to watch the West Georgia College Homecoming Parade. The parade started in mid morning, the air was crisp and cool, and I was wearing a sweatshirt to keep warm. This Saturday, 33 years later, the homecoming parade for what is now called the University of West Georgia will be held at 10 a.m.
In the years (decades) since, I have grown up, married and had two children. My husband and I live in Atlanta, which I once considered to be a large, unnavigable city. My mother still lives on the street where I grew up. My children are staying with her this weekend and will certainly learn life lessons from her, just as I did.
As a country we have survived the aftermath of Watergate, stagflation, and the Iran hostage crisis. Mr. Gorbachev brought down the wall. We survived 9/11 by drawing together as a nation. Subsequently, we have endured a return to partisan politics and polarization. Many things have been accomplished; however, there are still many challenges to be met.
Since that fall day, that college professor, Newt Gingrich, went on to lose two congressional elections, win 10 others and helped create a Republican majority in Congress. He founded the Center for Health Transformation and became an advocate for transforming our nation’s broken heath care system. Reinvention and vision have always been the tools that he has used to create the next phase of his life.
He is now deeply committed to one of his boldest visions, creating a non-partisan group, American Solutions. Its goal is to “fundamentally change government in all 513,000 elected offices across America.
“The core of the American Solutions movement is the belief that red versus blue thinking has brought us to a deadlocked dead end. Furthermore, American Solutions is focused on replacing the blame game and instead developing the positive innovative answers for America’s challenges.”
David Broder’s recent op-ed column in the Washington Post, “Gingrich gets points for visionary ideas,” notes that “If big ideas and big ambitions can bring Republicans back to life, Gingrich is ready to supply them. And I have learned not to underestimate him.
Broder has been following Gingrich since before that fall homecoming day.
The question is, are the American People ready to get involved and participate in such a huge undertaking?
Jay Bookman’s column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Our generation is all too good at taking the easy way out,” reflects the belief that we, as Americans, often wait for others to become involved before doing so ourselves. We often assume that “government” will fix the problem; often forgetting that government is made up of citizens and that, since we are citizens, it is our responsibility to act.
Bookman states, “The temptation to avoid pain and sacrifice, or to put it off as long as possible, is nothing new. In the previous century, the epitome of moral cowardice was probably Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who in 1938 tried to appease Adolph Hitler by handing him Czechoslovakia. But of course, war came anyway.
“If these days are any different, it's because the people we are trying to appease are ourselves.”
This is the pessimistic view, that America has become lazy and disengaged. We all know that growth and development require us to move beyond our comfort zone. Possibly it is time for those of us comfortable with others being active and engaged to become engaged ourselves.
It’s not enough to wait for the world to change as pop singer John Maier sings, but instead we should follow Gandhi’s advice to “be the change you want to see in the world.”
As Americans, we have been blessed. It is our turn as American citizens to give back to the country that has blessed us.
It is my belief that, as a nation, we are ready for hope and inspiration rather than fear and desperation, and that once inspired, the American people will work together to create a better future for our children and grandchildren.
Gingrich’s quote, which appeared in Broder’s June 30, 1974 column titled “Bright lights on the GOP front,” is as applicable today as it was then. The then dark-haired professor said, “as a conservative, I believe in organic growth, and win or lose, the sweat and labor of this campaign is the price I pay to earn the right to stand there on November 6th and say, ‘this is where I think we have to go from here.’”
After three additional decades of hard work, Gingrich will be providing his insight this week in regards to where the American people should go from here.
The Opening Presentation on September 27th will be at the Cobb Galleria Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The September 29th Solutions Day workshops will be help at the University of West Georgia, in Carrollton, Georgia, not long after the homecoming day parade. All activities will be available online at americansolutions.com and through DirecTV and the Dish network.
In this endeavor, the job of the American people is to show up for Solutions Day (remember, it is often said that 80 percent of success is just showing up). It is the goal of American Solutions to fundamentally change government. This can be accomplished by communicating to the American People the vision of a world that works, thereby creating hope and inspiration for us to move forward together.
I look forward to seeing you at Solutions Day and seeing what happens next.