Why We Must Stop the Blame Game

Why We Must Stop the Blame Game

A U.S. Marine in Afghanistan wonders why the United  States can’t come together to overcome our nation’s challenges

BY Pauline Franklin
December 23, 2011

As a Marine serving a year-long deployment in Helmand province, Afghanistan,  there are so many things that I miss about my home in Jacksonville,  N.C. But I am just one of many service members who will not be spending the  holidays with loved ones back home. For many Marines here, this is their  third, fourth or fifth deployment — others have deployed even more. We  chose to join the military to answer a calling to serve our fellow Americans or  to make a difference in the world, despite the sacrifices required to do so.

Being so far from home this holiday season, I look to the United States, and  I am saddened, not because times are difficult, but because our nation is too  great to suffer so. Americans have a strength born from overcoming  adversity and creating opportunity where there was none before, and the  challenges we face today are no different — if we can come together to serve  each other.

(MORE: What  to Thank a Vet For: Compassion)

Many people are outraged at the economic condition of the nation, and groups  are embroiled in the blame game that’s dividing America. But rather than  trying to find someone to blame — whether it’s Wall Street, the government or  the wealthy — it’s time to focus on the more important issue of working our way  out of the challenges we’re facing.

I’m sure we can all agree that the federal deficit of $15 trillion is far too  great, and we should continue to hold our elected officials accountable to find  solutions. But, in the interim, there are serious problems impacting  communities across the nation that we can address by working together.

The most troubling problem for me, as a mother, is the plight of child hunger  in the United States. It’s difficult to imagine that a nation as prosperous  as America even has a hunger problem. The U.S. Department of  Agriculture’s Economic Research Service has found  that 14.5% (17.2 million) of U.S. households had a “limited or uncertain  ability” to acquire nutritionally adequate and safe food at some time during  2010. The majority of these households met this challenge by eating less  varied diets or turning to federal food programs or community food pantries  where available. But 6.4 million of these households in 2010 did not have  enough money or other resources at times to acquire acceptable foods in socially  acceptable ways — that is, without resorting to emergency food supplies,  scavenging, stealing or other coping strategies.

Adequate food is a fundamental necessity, but it’s difficult to obtain  without money, which points to another challenge afflicting  America: unemployment and poverty. In early December, the Bureau of Labor  Statistics put the unemployment rate at  8.6%, more than 13 million people, of which 5.7 million have been unemployed  27 weeks or more.

Like many problems our nation faces, these may seem insurmountable, but we  can each do something small to help our neighbors get back on track. First, I  would encourage everyone to buy American products when possible to help American  businesses prosper and to promote job growth.

I also encourage people to support local programs, either through donations  or by volunteering their time. For example, you could organize a winter  coat drive to collect unwanted coats, like the ones your children have outgrown  but are still in good condition. You could also find something you are  passionate about, like improving education, and volunteer your support at a  school that needs help. If politics is your passion, run for local elected  positions or look for appointed positions where your experience and expertise  can benefit others.

As a Marine in Helmand province, I have seen our Marines and sailors do  amazing things to rid the area of insurgents and enable Afghan forces to assume  responsibility of security, but we are successful because we work together as a  team. Likewise, American history is filled with examples of people coming  together to overcome challenges and strengthen our nation. So this holiday  season, instead of pointing fingers and engaging in activities that divide  America, perhaps we can begin anew to focus that energy to overcome our  challenges through teamwork and dedication. Working together is not a seasonal  activity, and neither are the challenges we face.

Franklin is a Gunnery Sergeant in the U.S. Marines  stationed at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province, Afghanistan. The views  expressed are her own.
Categories: America, Democrats, Financial Crisis, Freedom, Governments, GREED, JOBS, Money, Obama, People, Politics, Republicans, Unemployed, White House | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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