Shaking Things Up

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A radical idea that may have been Thomas Jefferson’s greatest gift, to politicians.  Thomas Jefferson, the revolutionary genius who wrote the Declaration of Independence, and was one of our most gifted presidents.  But his passion for equality may be best revealed by a simple gesture.  With it, the leader who helped create a democracy in the era of kings and aristocrats set an example for all presidents to follow.

On the Fourth of July, 1801, Jefferson shocked diplomats at a White House reception by doing the unthinkable.  Rather than bow to his guests, he shook their hands.  Scandalous.  From that day forth, presidents would shake hands at every opportunity, pressing the flesh.  Where would politics be without it?

I think a good handshake is part of the social order.  Meetings begin and end with the ceremonial gesture.  Fortunes are won and lost based on the outcome of a handshake.

I am a father of two daughters, and there are many things I wish to teach my strawberry blonde sweethearts.  Please and thank you are a must.  How to change a tire, and I will be likely thanked by my future sons-in-law.  One my wife and I agree on wholeheartedly is to teach them a good handshake.  Look the person right in the eye, firm grip, and tell them what your name is and that you are pleased to meet them.

John F Kennedy commissioned an entire study to determine the most effective handshake as he understood that a handshake speaks volumes of who you are as a person.  Think about it: If Kennedy had gone to the Russians with a weak handshake, where would we be now?  Here are the highlights of the study:

1. Look the person in the eye.

2. Use a firm grip.

3. Don’t be too hasty.

4. Don’t shake too much.

5. Make correct use of the left hand.

6. Use speech in conjunction with the handshake.

7. Remind people of your name right away.

Peace treaties and great business deals have been consummated over a handshake and certainly first impressions are solidified.  I think a sustainable community can be built around the necessity of a good handshake.

While we are on the topic of politics, I have a mantra to “Vote Green Every Day.”  This means when you walk into Starbucks, you ask them why Iced Coffee is served in a cup with Resin Code 5 instead of 2?  Or telling the barrister at Kean Coffee that you appreciate their sustainability efforts.

I recently walked precincts, asking for votes. I was provided a list that contained both Democrats and Republicans.  The target criteria was that the household had voted four times in the last four elections.  The thinking is efficiencies of targeted marketing – trust me, your feet appreciate it.

One of my takeaways was that most people do not vote.  I knocked on one door, a lovely lady with a post-depression era name.  Then I had to pass several homes to get to the next, a senior gentleman, age 79.  That generation values the instilled behavior of their right as an American citizen to vote.

I passed nicely manicured lawns with kids’ bikes, a playhouse, a big SUV and Mercedes, all examples of living the American dream.  But, they didn’t vote, or at least not consistently. I really enjoyed shaking hands and talking local politics, but I was taken aback when I realized that an individual who is active, vocal, and offers opinions on many local topics, just was not on my list of consistent voters.

Do you vote?  What is the excuse, with absentee voting available?  Apathy of residents is what gave rise to the City of Bell and Vernon issues, in my opinion.

So, when the politicians are out pressing the flesh, deliver a firm handshake, look them in the eye, tell them your name, and ask them if they will recycle all those yard signs.

Vote Green Every Day, and on Nov. 2, please vote at the polls, your democracy and community need your active participation.

What Green Stories can you share?  Email [email protected]

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