We cannot all be soldiers or senators. But there is a way that everyone can serve his or her country honorably.
1. Vote. If you did not guess that we are strong proponents of democracy by now, remove all doubt. All those eligible to vote shall do so. It is no simpler than this: if you do not vote, you have no reason to complain. You read that correctly, non-voters: the Gormogons can write essays and blog posts and articles complaining about the government and everything else that crosses our path because we vote. If you vote, you can complain as much and as loud as you want. If you are not a voter, you forfeit your right to gripe about taxes, the cost of food and utilities, about Congressional spending, about foreign policy. Voter turnout today is painfully low: one suspects there are more people complaining about America being in two unjust wars, or that everything is Bush’s fault, or that global warming is treated as a joke—sorry, folks, but if you don’t vote, your opinion means nothing.
We will say it again: if you want to complain, you vote.
2. Jury Duty. It astonishes the Czar the great lengths people will go to get out of it, openly lying and distorting truths, and trying to be more clever than the attorneys and judge. Why? Yes, it can come at an inconvenient time—but if you genuinely have a conflict (vacation, workload, school, psycopathic episode), they dismiss you. Participating on a jury is every citizen’s responsibility. Sure, ‘Puter was released today from a jury (as opposed to released by a jury), but he did not try to get out of it. He had valid conflicts that would have prevented him from serving on this one and spoke the truth. The Czar has served as a matter of civic pride, and realized once when looking into the eyes of the defendant, that the defendant deserved to be given a jury who wanted to be there, and not some schmucks who were too dumb to get out of it.
Again, if you have a legitimate reason to be excused (due to a scheduling issue or professional conflict), speak up. But recognize you serve your community by accepting the honor of being part of the justice system. You can set an innocent man free, or condemn a guilty bastard to prison.
True story: once the Czar sat through the voir dire process prior to a murder trial. One guy—absolutely true—attested that he could not in good conscience serve on this jury. He was the parent of a six-year-old boy, a lad who has never heard, seen, or been exposed to any violence whatsoever. If the father were selected, he would have to tell his son the sad truth that one person was capable of harming another person, and that would certainly damage the boy’s psychology and even ruin his faith in his father, who told him people do not harm others.
The Czar expected the judge to rightly say “Man up, you big Sally; if your kid has lived for six years in some fantasy bubble about unicorns and butterflies, which you created, he’s already damaged goods and will wind up as some wrist-cutting emo punk by age 10. Nice work, dad.” Alas, the judge dismissed him because he realized this guy was a class A whiner.
That guy? Not allowed to complain about life.