I recently spent a week in Mexico. My wife, Sue, and I like to escape winter for at least a week every winter.  

We don’t do a lot on our vacation. It is primarily a chance to thaw out and talk about life. We talk about our plan for the upcoming year.  

We talk about our finances. 

We talk about our children and how we can help guide them in life.  

I realize many of you are likely rolling your eyes as you read this and thinking to yourself, “only Sue and Dave would go away a talk about their plans for life while walking the beach.”  

We also talk about our next vacation. We often book our next vacation before the trip is over.  

We are indeed that intentional about things.  

But as you might guess, we can only talk so much. We need to do something else. We also read. This year I read the book “The British are Coming” by Rick Atkinson.  

I loved it. I love reading about American history. It is an excellent reminder of where we came from and all the previous generations’ sacrifices to get us to today.  

Of course, they didn’t make these sacrifices on our behalf. They made them so that their world would be a better place. We are simply the beneficiaries of their actions.  

John Adams didn’t think, “I should risk everything in my life so that someday, maybe 25 generations from now, my descendants can spend the week reading about my life while sitting near the ocean.”

I think we have often glamorized them as visionaries looking out for us.  

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. They were visionaries. They didn’t make sacrifices and risk everything they had in life for us; they did it to improve the world they were living in.   

I wonder what they would think if they could see us today. I think Thomas Jefferson would be OK with me finding a place to read and gain a greater understanding. He did the equivalent things in his day.  

Taking the time to plan the future with our spouse would also likely win their approval. John and Abigail Adams’ correspondence is legendary. 

In those letters, they often talk about their plans. Martha Washington frequently visited George to catch up on life while he was fighting the British.  

But when I would look up from reading, and I would see a couple of millennials taking selfies of themselves so that they could post photos of themselves in bikinis on Instagram, I wondered if that was James Madison’s reason for free speech.  

(Don’t worry, I didn’t ever tell anybody, “Hey, you’re not Cheryl Tiegs, you’re not even Cheryl Ladd. Put down your phone, stop taking pictures, and put on more clothes. 

Nobody wants to see the photos your posting.” But I did think it on a few occasions).  

So, despite my more “realistic” than typical view of our founders, I do appreciate all they did for our great country and the sacrifices they made to give us all this opportunity. 

It just leaves me wondering what I am doing and what I should be doing to make a difference in the lives of future generations.

The question I settled on is, “will acting in my best interest today make the world a better place, or do I need to reconsider?”

We shouldn’t be using things up and being selfish. We should be conserving things around us and making them better.  

At Willmar Electric, we call it people making a difference for people. It gets called patriotism when it is done for the country’s good.