Enjoy the holidays

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This time of year, many Americans are taking a break from the drudgery of work, and enjoying the holidays.

This time of year, many Americans are taking a break from the drudgery of work, and enjoying the holidays.

Of course, “holiday” is defined “as a day of festivity or recreation when no work is done.” We all aspire to that, and between family, fun gifts, food, and football bowl games, not a lot of work will be done.

But it is a holiday, meaning it is only a break, and before anyone extends their holiday, or even their holiday mood, we hope part of the time off, however short, will be spent getting ready to go back to work.

Oh, we’re not worried about you going back to your j-o-b. You’ll do that and do your best because you have a tremendous work ethic and you are good at what you do and you get PAID.

But there are so many other important tasks that must be undertaken, and we can’t wait on someone else to do them. We can’t count on government to do them. We have to do this work.

Too many of our children are subjected to a substandard education. You might think that isn’t your job, if you don’t have children or if your children are scholarly. But if more than 50 percent of our children are dropping out of school, and we can draw a direct line from dropping out of school to dropping into prison, that is a job for everyone. It means volunteering at schools, volunteering as mentors, volunteering as coaches. It means recognizing that failing children tend to pull other children down with them. Is someone dragging your child down?

It also means that some parents have to do a better job with their own children. They have to spend time reading to them, helping them with their homework, turning off the television and the video games and paying attention to where their children are, and whom they are with. You know who you are.

We have to make our neighborhoods safer. That means we have to take ownership and band together to repel the criminal element. We have to work to make sure we are not hostages in our own homes, afraid to sit on our porches or front steps, because some baggy-pants hooligan wants to claim ownership to a segment of pavement. More police won’t make us safer. We have a job to do.

Making our neighborhoods safer will help to put some of our people back to work. Not all of them, of course, but small businesses are the biggest job engine, and if small businesses feel safe locating in our neighborhoods, the jobs will be safe as well. We have to prepare ourselves and our youth to get those jobs, both in the neighborhoods and out.

And if you have not yet started the process of getting to know all of the candidates for mayor, and all of the other candidates for public office, you’ll need to get to work. Don’t vote based on polls or familiar names or even political party. Vote because you have studied the candidates and determined which of them, if any, serves your interests or the interests of your community.

Yes, enjoy the holidays, whether it is faith-based, culturally based or just plain time off. But remember that there is so much work to do.

Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender

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