(This post is not about religion, it is about standing up for what you believe in. So please read it all.)
I was raised with the idea: "The squeaky wheel doesn't always get the grease, sometimes it gets replaced." Silence is gold or so they say but it seems that in today's society, those who scream the loudest get their way.
A good example of this is religion or the lack thereof. There has been a trend in this country (and I'm sure in others) where a small group of people who are against the idea of having anything to do with religion being a part of government, schools, sporting events, etc., seem to be winning. It seems like there is always something on the news about prayer being banned or the word "God" being removed from something. In a country that was built on the ideal of freedom of religion, more and more is being done to remove any sign of religion.
Now pick up any phone book and look up churches and see how many listings are there. I'm sure you will find a lot of listings. Or drive through town and see how many churches you see. There is a small town not far from me that in 2007 had a population of about 1,400 people and at one point had about 5 churches. I've also seen poll after poll after poll that shows a majority of people believe in God.
So, if so many people believe in God, why is anything to do with religion becoming taboo and politically incorrect? Why, because the smaller group screams the loudest.
If a group has a larger number of people, why don't they scream louder than the smaller group? That can be explained easily with the phrase, "someone else will do it". Yep, so many people are willing to sit back and let someone else take care of things. We are more than willing to sit back and complain but we aren't willing to do anything about it. We aren't willing to "scream". If you believe in something, do something. Make your voice heard....SCREAM. Get other people to scream too.
You would think that "organized religion" would be able to organize and stand up for what they believe in but I've seen a lot of churches that are willing to "scream" while in church, be it from the pulpit or wherever, but they aren't willing to organize and do things outside the church to stand up for what they believe in.
OK ... so where am I going with this you might ask?
The truck driving community needs to take a page from the anti-religion group. We need to "scream" louder not just sit around and complain. We all agree that truck drivers are targeted unfairly for a lot of things whether it is the environment or taxes or accidents. We need to organize. I'm not saying unionize...organize. Too many people say that truck drivers can't organize because they are always moving. In today's technological world, you don't need to be in the same physical place for meetings or rallies, etc. I'll let you in on a little secret … a secret called the Internet. Have you heard of it? How many of you have met and exchanged ideas with people not only across the country but across the world?
We can use the Internet to exchange ideas and to organize. How do we do that you might ask? We can do that in many, many ways. You can do things like posting blogs, joining forums, posting on major media outlets. You can keep up on current legislation proposals. You can use it to contact Congressmen, Senators, Governors, legislators. Don't just contact the officials from your home state; contact those that are sponsoring the legislation. (Check out the Contact Elected Officials page over at www.usa.gov.)
Join organizations that support what you believe in. OOIDA is a good example of a group that helps support truck drivers. They don't only support owner/operators, they support all truck drivers even company drivers. They actually go and speak with legislators. They follow the legislations that affect truck drivers. (Check out the OOIDA “Issues and Actions” page.) But, they can't do it alone. We must be willing to do our part not just sit back and figure “someone else will do it". Write your representatives. Call them. Stop at their offices. And I repeat, not just the ones from your home state. Let them know the problems that you face and where you stand on certain legislation. Do so in a calm, professional manner. Get non-drivers involved.
Truck drivers as a group are smaller than non-truck drivers but we can scream louder, if we choose too. Most of the time, we are fighting against ignorance.
Educate others outside of the industry. I said "educate". You don't want to come across as complaining. Believe me, before I became interested in truck driving, I didn't have any idea of the problems that faced the industry. I've researched a lot. I've read a lot of blogs and forums. I've had people who have helped to "educate" me. I may not be a truck driver (heck, I've never even ridden in a big rig) but I still try to do my part to educate people on the problems truck drivers face.
We have to make sure the “4-wheelers” of the world learn about the problems that truckers are faced with. They need to know that some laws and industry policies can actually make a driver unsafe. Yes, the driver of that 80,000 lbs missile they are driving next to is a professional driver, but they must do their part to help keep everyone safe. They need to know about the “No-Zones”. They need to know what it takes to stop a big rig. They need to know that anti-idling laws are endangering everyone on the road by making it harder for drivers to sleep. They need to know the dangers that truckers face by not having safe places to park (Jason’s Law).
Leave information or a copy of ‘Land Line Magazine’ in the doctor’s office waiting room or at the mechanics. Print out information, such as fliers available at the “No-Zones”, and put them up on the bulletin board at the grocery store or at the gym.
By educating “4-wheelers”, maybe, just maybe we will add more voices to our “scream”. We need all the voices that we can get. We must be heard. There have to be changes not only for the safety and well being of truck drivers but also for their families and for the families in the SUV driving next to that big rig with the driver who had to try and sleep in 100° temperatures without air conditioning.