Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Investing in America

Have you ever volunteered before? If so, please share some of your insights and experiences with your classmates. If not, what are your apprehensions? What are your initial thoughts about volunteerism? At the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Virginia in February of 2008, Barack Obama said that as President, he would invest in America's young adults and that in turn he would expect them to invest in America. Specifically, he was referring to young people investing their time to make America and even this world a better place through volunteering in organizations like Americorps, the Peace Corps, veterans' homes, homeless shelters, the Red Cross etc... I think this is an interesting and inspiring message for a number of reasons. First is the idea of "investing" which is such an American capitalist idea, except that Obama calls on Americans to invest time and themselves, not their finances. Second, what is interesting is the idea that we are investing in this country to make it a better place for EVERYONE to live. By helping others, we are really helping ourselves. We learn about others and understand what they are going through. We are more connected and united in our country together instead of being simply individuals all using this country for our own gain and self-interest. This reminds me of Schwalbe's "Sociological Mindfulness" which talks about seeing the big picture and how we can make positive changes in little ways. What do you think about Obama's ideas? How about investing in America to make it a better place and not investing for self-interest? Is this what Schwalbe had in mind in the excerpt we read for class? What do you think? Watch the Obama speech if you have time. It is a little long, but impressive. The part I was referring to is right around 18:45. Incidentally, he also mentions not emphasizing tests (something else we have tried to do in sociology).

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