“And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

Everyone gets a nice little warm feeling about that speech hey? It’s so stately… So American… But have you answered that call yet? Have you answered the question? Or is it just a nice warm fuzzy feeling?

You know where I stand on Obama. If you don’t… Don’t think too hard as it should be pretty obvious. But I am a bit worried…

What appeals to me about Obama is that he asked for everyone to chip in. A bit like JFK did back then. He asked everyone to get off their backsides and help bring America back on its feet. The problems facing America (and the world for that matter) won’t be solved by politicians. Well, at least not by politicians alone. Everyone should do their bit. Everyone should contribute a little. Not money (except if you have loads of cash!) but a bit of yourself. Have a look around you and look at what can you do to make it a little better. Take some responsibility to help rebuild and strengthen America. And that’s where the problem comes in. People…

Okay, so you know my philosophy – Ubuntu. I am because we are. I don’t expect everyone to believe in that. But maybe everyone should at least look at their own responsibility. What can each one do to make it a bit better. Even if it is for selfish reasons. Do it so you can go back and do nothing later on. But now isn’t the time to do nothing.

I just don’t know if America is ready for this. You know – for everyone to do a little bit more than the usual. Maybe even sacrifice a little. Think about you own actions within the bigger picture. Everyone got America (and the world) in this sad place and everyone will be needed to get us out of this. But are you ready to do something?

Let me tell you a little story about why I have my doubts…

I always try to go with my wife to pick up the girls at school whenever I am at home. I like it and so do they. And I get to hang out with a few other parents as well. We go down to the school and wait outside while we wait for the little one. Chatting away with the parents and they all seem to be more or less nice people. But you can’t really judge them just based on a little chat. You can study them a little closer and see how they behave though. And that is when their true colors show…

Some parents bring their dogs with when they pick up their kids. Nice – I like dogs. I’m a “dog-person”. The last six years without a dog has been the first time in my life that I don’t have a mutt hanging out with me. Dogs are so ubuntu – I am because we are. They love unconditionally. No strings attached apart from the food and a bit of a tickle and play. So I really like seeing people bring their dogs to school when they come to get their other mutts kids. And it gives my little one a chance to play with them and say hello.

But these parents forget that they are responsible for their dogs. Really, if your dog craps right there where the kids play – please pick up the crap and discard in the bin provided. What is so difficult to understand about that? It’s easy. Your dog and your crap – deal with it. Or would you prefer someone else to do that for you?

So we walk our little one to the car like all the other parents. While walking to our car I watched as another parent loaded her little one in the car. And she took the plastic water bottle her kids had and just chucked it on the grass/snow/ice next to her car. And left it there. Got in the car and drove off. Your plastic bottle – deal with it. Or would you prefer someone else to do that for you?

And so it goes. People drive like bastards – not caring about other people around them. People treat those working behind the counter like second class citizens. They take whatever they can to get a little more for themselves. It’s just me-me-me everywhere you look.

I know… Not everyone is like that. Many people clean up after themselves. Many people are polite to others. They get up to give someone else their seat on the train. They help people cross the road. They wait patiently in line instead of trying to “steal” one over the other people waiting in line. So many people know their responsibilities. But these people also knew their responsibility before the economic world fell apart. They are still the same people they were before all the crap hit the fan. But what about those others?

I just don’t know if people even know how to be responsible anymore. They are willing to talk the talk but I just don’t see them walk the walk. It’s all about me-me-me…

Everyone is looking after themselves. “I’m safe so no worries.” The “others” are just statistics and I have no responsibility towards them. Fine. But clean up your own mess please. Start by taking control of what you have control over. Pick up the plastic bottle instead of bitching about “those others”.

Maybe life has become too “plastic” for most people. They buy what they want in nice little packages. Life comes in nice little plastic containers for them. Ready to eat. Ready to drink. Ready to drive. Ready to wear. Ready to watch. All we have to do is consume and consume. More for me-me-me. Someone else will grow it. Someone else will make it. Someone else will manufacture it. Someone else will build it. I use and I throw away. The plastic bottles of life. No responsibility – just neatly packaged for more me-me-me. Hell, we now even go to the telly to get some “reality”!

Don’t have to worry about getting laid off because you are either the boss or safe? Don’t have to worry too much about the troops because it isn’t your son/daughter and just a statistic with no pictures on the telly? Don’t have to worry too much about life because your life is just fine as long as you don’t have to look out the window at the neighbours? Oh it makes us feel bad and it makes us feel sad but we don’t have to do the worrying 24/7 because it isn’t really our lives. Is it?

That’s my problem. I don’t know if enough Americans realize that they have to do something. They have to act more responsible than before. Obama promised change. But he promised it with action needed from your side. You want a voice in DC? Fine – stop bitching and start doing. Too many people are either not interested and just in it for themselves or good at pointing fingers but no good at being part of the solution.

Be selfish. No problem there. But be selfish about your own responsibility. Start with you. Start cleaning your own house. Start being responsible for your own stuff. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll realize that the solution to the problems in America and the world starts with you. If not – just leave the crap for us to clean will you? I’m just a little worried that there is more crap and plastic bottles than people willing to clean up the mess.

Mind where you step as the next step might be economic crap on the bottom of your shoes. Just don’t ask us to help. I’m too busy picking up the plastic bottles of life. And I don’t have time to recycle…