2007-01-04 / Sam Bari

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand

The “I resolve” column
By Sam Bari

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand
The “I resolve” column

Every year most of us make at least a small effort to succeed at keeping one New Year’s resolution. We resolve to stop smoking, lose weight and myriad other standard things that affect our personal lives. Last year, I suggested that if we truly want this country to be united, as our name implies, then let’s identify ourselves as Americans and be proud of it. I believe that was a great New Year’s resolution for the entire nation.

I must say that last year the people of Jamestown did more than identify themselves as Americans. They set examples of what good Americans should be by their behavior and accomplishments. As a journalist, I felt privileged to write about Danielle and Erin Brown inspiring hundreds of people to donate 1,500 stuffed animals to send to children who had nothing in war-torn Iraq. I was honored to write about Bob Sutton and the Jamestown Community Farm raising several tons of vegetables and donating their harvest to feed the needy. And how could covering the story of Maureen and Rob Packer turning tragedy into something positive with Ali’s Run not make any writer feel good?

Covering stories like those gave me good reason to get up in the morning. They are just a few examples of how the people in our community have identified themselves as “good Americans,” and they can be proud of their accomplishments. Many more events, acts of kindness, and community service should be recognized and mentioned. Unfortunately, space is limited, and the paper isn’t large enough to list them all.

I find it amazing how participation in programs and events like the aforementioned pulls the community together without any conscious effort. When we work together toward common goals, we are no longer identified with labels that point out our differences. We are just groups of Americans doing what Americans do, help where and when help is needed. We don’t need a government to tell us what to do; we do it because that is our mindset. That is the way Americans think.

Small towns, villages, and cities across the country make similar efforts. Once in a while we hear about them, but not often enough. I think the entire nation should know about the Brown twins, our community farm, and Ali’s run. I’m sure that similar programs and events are happening every day throughout America. If you read the community newspapers, you’ll learn about them. Our national media spends a little too much time focusing on people who are famous for being famous and not wearing underwear. How and why that happens is beyond my realm of comprehension.

Nothing is wrong with reading about celebrities. They lead glamorous lives, and offer many a little bit of hope. But the concentration of information appears to be on the scandalous behavior of a few instead of the good deeds of the many. If you want to read about celebrities, read about the good things George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, and Tiger Woods are doing. Those people are first class, generous, good-hearted Americans — the best of the best. More should be written about all they’ve done for the less fortunate on this little rock we call Earth.

This year, I resolve to write more about the good things that happen in our community, and I resolve to encourage other writers, especially those who have access to wider audiences to do the same. By doing this, I sincerely believe that people will have more opportunities to see that the American people are united, and we do think as a community with common goals, and a positive mindset. Despite the many challenges that face us every day, we manage to pull together as true Americans, living in a system that we can’t understand.

That being said, I wish you and yours a happy, healthy and productive New Year.

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