Today's Topic



Yes, I Can and I Will

Natalia J. Garland

Print Version

There used to be a saying: if you got it, flaunt it. And, some people would reply: if you really got it, you don't have to flaunt it. What is it? Usually, it is a major purchase such as a car, possessing extravagant wealth, looking gorgeous or having a shapely body. The point is that people who lack confidence need to be the envy of others. People who have confidence, however, can balance wealth and beauty (or the lack thereof) with other attributes of life, and can relate to others in a considerate manner.

Lately, a certain political slogan has become a saying: that is, a phrase packed with power and intended to guide or add wit to the course of daily life. Yes, I can. Only three words. But, like frozen orange juice from concentrate, you have to add some water to appreciate the flavor and make it digestible. What does can mean, and what is the it that can be done?

There seem to be two ingredients in the yes I can or yes we can saying. First, there is the psychological, self-help ingredient. The saying helps people to feel good about themselves. There is a motivating and empowering impact. Second, perhaps like the We Shall Overcome song of the 1960's, the saying is intended to help people overcome societal barriers. In the 1960's, of course, the barriers were obvious and intolerable: racial prejudice and subjugation of women. There was a direct connection between the meaning of the song and the purpose of the political movement. What are the barriers of the 2000's? And, how are these barriers to be broken?

Unlike the we shall overcome attitude of the 1960's, the yes I can attitude seems to have a smug, defiant, or rebellious quality. Some possible interpretations are as follows. (1) Yes, I can cross the U.S. border illegally and get away with it. (2) Yes, I can pressure the U.S. government to give me citizenship. (3) Yes, I can get the things I need or want through government programs. (4) Yes, I can flaunt my working-class status as nobler than the middle or upper income classes. (5) Yes, I can protest in the streets. (6) Yes, I can demand immediate withdrawal from Iraq. (7) Yes, I can criticize. (8) Yes, I can vote without understanding policy details. (9) Yes, I can because I can.

Americans do not agree on what constitutes a societal barrier in the 2000's. Just because you can, that does not mean it is good or right. For example, parents will often encourage a child with remarks such as you can do it! The purpose is to guide the child to utilize his mental capacity and to develop skills. The encouragement is intended to produce concrete results and to render the child independent. Capability, especially between parent and child, can become a negative process or battle. Some children quickly learn how to use the power of words against adults. No! You can't make me! True. Most adults are not going to physically force a child to do something. Parenting is a difficult job, and some children just seem to test this.

The absurdity of the yes I can saying can be illustrated as follows. If you can, then so can I. (1) Yes, I can build a border fence. (2) Yes, I can protect national sovereignty, place quotas on immigration, and influence foreign policy. (3) Yes, I can set reasonable limits on government assistance programs. (4) Yes, I can accumulate wealth and still be a caring person. (5) Yes, I can sign petitions and send e-mails to elected officials. (6) Yes, I can support victory and democracy in Iraq. (7) Yes, I can analyze your criticisms. (8) Yes, I can expose political candidates whose policies are contrary to reason. (9) Yes, I can because I place duty above self-interest.

In some instances, the yes I can attitude seems to be a camouflage for oppositional personalities. It really means: no, you can't make me! True again. America will not forcefully deport masses of people, deprive them of humanitarian care, obstruct their freedom of speech and assembly, imprison them for disagreement, or require an entrance exam to the voting booth. Thoughtful Americans can and will, however, participate in politics, study the opinions and plans, and try to make the best decisions. Mainstream America currently has difficult barriers to overcome.

I can and will do my part with every word I write. My little corner of the world can connect to anyone doing research on the internet. From now on, anyone who googles yes I can will possibly access my contribution to the analysis of our political situation. I can, I will, and I just did. (Written 02/25/08)

Until we meet again..............stay sane.

Find More Topics in the Table of Contents

Return to Homepage


Copyright 2008 Natalia J. Garland