Stephen Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, explains seven habits which, except for the seventh habit, must happen in sequence for an individual to be effective. He explains a maturity continuum where one starts from a state of dependence and through private victories, using habits 1(Be Proactive), 2 (Put First Things First), and 3 (Begin With the End in Mind), becomes independent. Through public victories they then become interdependent and synergistic using habits 4 (Think Win-Win), 5 (Seek First to Understand Then to Be Understood), and 6 (Synergize). Habit 7 (Sharpen the Saw) is an ongoing habit which keeps a person functioning at their peak. The first habit, “Be Proactive,” means that the first thing a person must do to be effective is to take personal ownership of how they respond to whatever happens to them. Bad things happen to everybody. The difference between a victim and a hero is not in what happens to them, but in how they respond to it. One of the things that separates human beings from animals is the space between the stimulus and the response. In that space, human beings have a choice whether to respond how our instincts, reflexes and natural impulses tell us we should, or to analyze the stimulus and make a conscious choice to respond rationally and have an impact on the results through our response. This is being proactive. It is the beginning of anything that has a positive effect on the world.
All change, good or bad, begins by individuals being proactive. Therefore, in order for our nation to improve, it must begin at the individual level. We as individual citizens must become more proactive in our approach to what happens to government. In order to do this, we first need to be aware of what is happening in our government.
One of my mentors, Oliver DeMille, recently posted a series of three blog articles titled Details of Freedom. Part 1 and Part 2 define checks and balances and why it is important for free government to understand the difference and apply them appropriately. Part 3 speaks about the importance of individuals being familiar with what their government is doing. He speaks about how our nation, since the introduction of what he calls conveyor belt education, has stopped reading proposed and passed legislation, supreme court rulings, and proposed and ratified treaties. We have left our federal government unsupervised because we have started to refer to ourselves as “regular” people who are either too busy, too uneducated, or too uninterested to read and understand these acts of government and how they affect us.
I think most people recognize the importance of knowing how to read in maintaining our freedom. The problem in our society is that some make the mistake in assuming that merely being able to read street signs, comic books and the latest fad novel series is what maintains freedom. While this level of reading is important because it requires a certain level of mental health and awareness, it is not enough if we don’t read the things that affect our freedom. If we leave it to political pundits and the news media to summarize proposed and newly passed laws; supreme court rulings and the justices opinions (dictum); and proposed and ratified treaties, we are leaving our understanding open to influence by their prejudices and opinions which will inevitably tint what they tell us. As citizens, if we intend to keep our freedoms, we must learn to read these important texts.
Part of my vision for Free Commots is to be a resource for access to this information. Until that is set-up, I would like to share the following links:
Congressional Bills (which would include proposed and ratified treaties):
Supreme Court decisions:
Finally, considering recent actions by the Executive Branch, Executive Orders are important to keep track of. They are not supposed to create law, but have come close several times.
For some people in some states there is a site for Local and State governmental action