A few months ago, Susan Lieberman* emailed me with this statement to complete: If I were in charge, one thing I would do for our country……. My answer was that I would end hunger for children and adults in America. A few weeks later, my statement, along with statements from other Americans, including students, was put in the author’s latest book: Americans Speak.
With the election between Trump & Clinton only a few days away, this book is very timely. However, even though Susan sent out close to 1,000 emails, she received only 65 responses from voters, plus a few dozen San Diego high school students whose comments are in the section entitled, “Voices of the Next Generation.”
Looking at why people did not respond is part of the book’s second chapter, “Lessons Learned.” The author notes that we Americans have difficulty talking about policy. She lists three reasons for why we are perplexed:
- complexity of differing points of view
- overwhelmed by information
- disappointed there is little clarity around a strategy for solving the problem
Those who did respond fell into categories such as a need for greater civility, education and climate change, voting, finances, immigration, abortion, and the elderly. But there are no comments about foreign policy or terrorism, homelessness, tax fraud, or privacy. The student responses add to the adult comments as well as amplify them. I found their comments to be quite sophisticated for high school students. Here is an excerpt from one student:
I think one of the most important problems in the U.S. today is systematic oppression affecting people’s ability to succeed, especially those with unconventional gender identity. Our society is designed for people in positions of power, and it always has been…..
Dr. Lieberman also lists why people chose not to reply, which I found interesting:
- Too hard
- Too many issues
- Too distracted
- Too public a statement
- Too presumptuous
Many of the replies reflect some of my own ideas, so I was happy to be in good company, even when I did not always agree with the entire statement. Here is an excerpt of my response:
As a nutrition educator, I believe that next to water and air, access to food to thrive is a given right, not a privilege. Thus, if I could change one thing in this country, it would be to make sure every single child and his or her parents do not go hungry for even one day…I find the fact that children [in America] go to bed hungry a crime, not just a tragedy!
Author Susan Lieberman has created an interesting and important book, both with the comments and with the reasons why people did not respond. I also enjoyed reading the students’ responses. At the end of the book, the author includes a helpful explanation of the Federal Budget as well as a short chapter on “Why This Project is Important” and reflects my belief that each person can make a difference, and Susan has done this with her book of 192 pages.
Americans Speak is available from Amazon.com. for $8.00. You can also reach the author at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I think Susan Lieberman’s book is an eye opener and service to our country, because the statements of those willing to speak up tell us what voters want and believe. Here is Dr. Lieberman’s wish in her “Ideas Matter” chapter:
Most of the people in this book do not have a direct ability to enact public policy beyond the opportunity to vote, and perhaps, to protestor advocate. I hope hearing voices of desire and reason will create optimism for the democratic process.
My thanks to the author for making a difference by publishing voters’ ideas and students’ comments and for her asking me to participate in this important election year.
*I reviewed two of Susan’s other books a coupleof years ago. Here are the links:
Growing Old is a Full Time Job – http://wp.me/p82Ooe-3LC
Death, Dying and Dessert – http://wp.me/p82Ooe-3Zk