Monday, January 31, 2005

The election in Iraq: Their courage inspires us all


An Iraqi woman casts her vote

An estimated 8.5 million brave Iraqis went to the polls yesterday, affronting death threats by suicide bombers. Iraqis stood in long lines in the chilly air to vote for their future, knowing that it might be their last day of life.

I'll remember them with respect the next time I go to the polls. I won't complain about the long line and inclement weather. Never again.

We at Lead Our Leaders believe that all peoples on Earth are united by their desire for liberty and prosperity. Determined Iraqis proved this to us yesterday. They want what sometimes I take for granted. Never again.

Shiites, Sunnis, Muslims, Christians, Arabs, Kurds and Turks said by their vote that they no longer wanted a nonparticipatory dictatorship. Instead, they are willing to work together toward a brighter future.

There were 5,300 polling locations. American security efforts swelled the number of citizens willing to walk to the polls. Emerging from Polling Center Number 211 in Irbil, Iraq yesterday, an excited Qanaa Ayub was asked how she voted by a St. Petersburg Times reporter. Her son replied with a smile, "She voted for freedom."

The oppressor insurgents, with no platform, lost the election. The Iraqis, with the dream of liberty and prosperity through national participatory unity, won the election.

There was a time in America’s history when citizens were also excluded from the voting process. Like the Iraqis yesterday, women and blacks defied risk of murder to vote in a free election. Never again.

Community activists worked to secure a safe voting environment for women and blacks during those dark times in America. We’re a can-do nation with a heart. We help each other here, and we help friends abroad. Yea, I have a goodly heritage. Psalm 16:6.

Americans’ acts of personal courage and self-empowerment have been inspiring to the Iraqi people. Let’s continue the effort, by Leading Our Leaders to fix what’s broken with our political process. We can’t afford to pinball from one crisis to another.


Register to vote

Women voting in Iraq

Was your first voting experience memorable? How was it significant to you?

The whole point of women’s suffrage is that the government needs the point of view of all its citizens and the women have a point of view, which is of value to the government. Eleanor Roosevelt, 14 April 1924

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Inaugural: Please unite us


Raise your hand if you want to Lead Our Leaders!

President Bush was re-elected by a 3.5 million national popular vote margin. Thank goodness there was no polarizing litigation this time around to certify the results. Hopefully the president will construe his clear victory as an opportunity to unite the country and the world. Let the healing begin!

As bitter as this campaign may have seemed, it’s helpful to recognize that the candidates had much in common. Neither President Bush nor Senator Kerry campaigned against the war. Both candidates campaigned on freedom from terrorism and renewed economic prosperity. Fine so far!

Even as we disagree on how our favorite candidate would have brought relief to our domestic challenges, Lead Our Leaders hope all our legislators will concentrate on five survival issues which transcend party politics: polarization, terror, deficits, wealth inequalities, and energy/environment issues. These are objectives consistent with our constitutional responsibilities and expectations. They determine our national and global future.

Without global stabilization, our borders will not protect us from terrorist attacks. Safe borders will allow trading opportunities, which will in turn provide a higher standard of living while enriching us through diverse human interchanges. Let the good times roll!

Free and strong allied countries can export and import goods, not their problems, like terror and drugs. Safe prosperity!

President Bush and Senator Kerry agreed that nation-building is not an American military task alone. Arguing now over who could best unite us is pointless. Let us concentrate on how to move forward together. We all want the same things: security and prosperity. So how hard could it be?

Let's put aside our party differences and work on our five survival issues. Rodney King made a great point: "Can't we all just get along?!"

But we can’t expect our legislators to reconcile their differences and move forward without us. We need to be a part of the solution. President Bush has said, "Every citizen should be an agent of his or her own destiny." True - heaven knows we can't depend on the government to determine our future for us.

Choices I've made over the years have shaped my story. Some of my choices were good -others bad. I learned practical lessons from my lamentable decisions, so I came to embrace my mistakes with gratitude. I'm glad my personal history didn't run solely on the wheels of inevitability, and I don’t want to let our nation’s history run its course without making an impact.

So I accept President Bush’s challenge to be an agent for change. Hence the title of my blog: Empower Yourself To Be The Solution. It's for you. And it's for me. I hope you'll help me along my journey.

Let's guide ourselves and our leaders toward a brighter future. I'm ready - and I hope you are too!


Lead Our Leaders will give you some background on our five most pressing survival issues.

Volunteer Match

Learn to talk with kids about terrorism:
Talking With Kids

Learn to keep safe from terrorism:
U.S. Travel Info.
Red Cross terrorism services

Have you found good websites on volunteering, helping yourself, and helping others?

Please inspire us by sharing an empowering personal experience that helped you toward a goal.

I believe that there is a future in anything that one is vitally interested in. Lou Henry Hoover, 6 February 1942.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Welcome to my blog! Will you be the ring bearer?


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Oh! Wanderers in the shadowed land despair not!... Frodo's song

I’ve always wanted to save the world. Click here to get to know me. So why have my annual New Year’s resolutions been so myopic?

Every year I’ve come up with self-help regimens designed to banish my personal pesky demons. Mine was the mantra of pretty much every American adult in early January—exercise more, and hold the dessert. But this year, something’s different. The 2004 presidential campaign has changed the way I look at New Year’s resolutions forever.

November’s election illustrated that political candidates often opine on cultural issues unrelated to our survival. We’re bombarded with shards of rancorous rhetoric on issues about which voters are nearly evenly divided. Why are our political leaders failing us? We need leadership rather than more buck passing, procrastination, and partisans blaming the other team.

After the elections, I found myself wishing that politicians would spend less time arguing about culturally divisive issues, and more time cooperating to change the world for the better. I wondered what I could do to hold our office-holding politicians accountable to work together, with civility and respect, to solve our most crucial challenges. In short, I wanted to know how I can help to Lead our Leaders?

This year, I want to reach beyond my chocolate addiction. Shouldn’t I work to secure the future of our next generation instead? Our world is facing urgent survival issues. Why can’t you and I be virtual-lobbyists and Lead Our Leaders to change the way politics is done in America?

This is a daunting task and I’ll need your help. We can do it! The hero’s journey is one of the most common archetypes in literature. A hero doesn’t have to be physically strong, tough, or even brave. All she needs is vision, a little imagination, and determination! Ordinary heroes, with their individual flaws and weaknesses, like Rahab in the Bible, Joan of Arc, Dante inspired by Beatrice, Mary Wollstonecraft, Dinah Maria Mulock, Alice in Wonderland, Florence Nightingale’s Cassandra, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Lucy & Susan in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicle of Narnia, Lassie, Norma Rae, Erin Brokovitz, Laura Croft and Samantha Carter have shared their stories of saving the world. Little guys, like you and me, can slay the dragons of ignorance and intolerance and save the world.

For inspiration I turn to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, an epic tale of one small hobbit’s heroic quest to vanquish evil and establish world peace. Frodo Baggins is a common Hobbit who is forced to carry a ring on a perilous journey to save his people in the mythical land of Middle-earth.

Tolkien experienced social and political challenges in the early 20th century that may have forged his commitment to pen Frodo’s empowering journey. Wealth inequalities of the military corps in WW-I, and the injustice of child labor during the Industrial Revolution were realities of his life in England. Incensed by government policy that was not in the best interest of the people, Tolkien gave us a ring-bearing hero to protect the world and drive away evil. Tolkien’s books are wonderful meditations on the power of friendship and the commitment to helping others in times of peril.

I’d be honored if you’d start a noble journey with me as a ring bearer to make our global village a better place.

Our world is vulnerable like Frodo’s Middle-earth. We, like Frodo, are humble people who feel called to save the world. But you and I can’t do it alone—we need the assistance and friendship of this world’s Sams, Gandolphs, and even Gollums. Please visit our Lead Our Leaders website for a discussion of the five issues threatening our existence. We must be the Frodos in the struggle to ameliorate polarization, terror, wealth inequalities, deficits, energy crises and environmental damage.

Please vote in our website’s virtual voting booth. Tell our leaders that you want them to work to solve our five survival issues. And please read my blogs for ideas on how we all can be ring bearers to save our corner of the world. Frodo was an ordinary man like you and I who volunteered to be the ring bearer to destroy the evil ring.

Frodo represents the good of every person like you and me. Frodo, you and I are the heroes needed today.

Tolkien’s Hobbits are small ordinary people called upon to perform extraordinary acts. Their valor inspires us all.

One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all
And in the darkness bind them.

Let’s work together to change the ring of rancorous partisan politics into one of cooperative struggle for positive global change.

Will you join me in being a ring bearer in this eternal theme of common man triumphing over complacency? Please go to our website and start now!

Thanx - Mary