I opened the dictionary to the word “hand” and found a column-and-a-half of definitions just as I expected. For 10 days I have experienced the spectrum of emotions, from overwhelmed with happiness to sadness with the massive destruction Hurricane Sandy brought to Americans who reside on the East Coast, to unbelievable disappointment in the election.My happiness was engaged by “Helping Hands”. They came to get some very necessary improvements completed. That’s what we Americans do, we help each other without a mandate or a program or an agency. These people came on their own time and impressed me immensely to the point of getting teary-eyed every time I tried to talk. I remember how those eyes felt when a few days later I was again weeping with a helpless, sad feeling for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. I can say with certainty happy tears feel much better than sad ones. The happy ones made me feel euphoric inside; the sad ones left this huge ache or pit in my stomach. I watched the election results thinking of the victims of Sandy who were rich and poor, Democrats, Independents, and Republicans; Sandy was not selective in her rage. When all contests were decided in this exorbitantly expensive campaign for public office, my thought was that nothing changed; there is no mandate; we continue with business as usual. The irony between Sandy and the election is currently there is well over $20 billion dollars of damage and destruction to millions of people, including my friends and relatives.Conversely, we wasted $20 billion on a long, laborious, ludicrous campaign season that really did not do much to educate “We, the People.” Instead, campaigns spent their money savagely attacking each other with emotional half-truths that had nothing to do with issues, pressing topics more critical than abortion rights and birth control.It is time “We, the People” demand our leaders to do their jobs and quit talking about it. Do something. This terrifying “Fiscal Cliff” must be avoided. We have not only the right but the duty to insist on that from those who serve as our leaders in this Republic. When our glorious USA fails, all of us — Democrats, Independents, Republicans, immigrants and, yes, the alleged 47 percent, along with the millionaires, all lose. Does that scare you like it scares me on a daily basis? It should. We all have to get involved.Americans should expect leadership, readily question decisions and offer solutions when none are forthcoming. Sometimes others not so entwined in a problem see it more clearly. We the People are not outsiders; this is our government. Please do not hesitate to contact your local, state and federal representatives with your concerns or ideas. Each of them made promises, commitments, and took oaths to serve. Anything less than a 100 percent compliance with those tenets is not acceptable. We should all frown on “crony politics”; it often costs us dearly in the end.On the other hand, grass-roots efforts succeed as we saw here in Carson City with the ill-fated library project. In that movement, by a handful of concerned citizens, that pride in our city worked for the good of the entire community. One rarely hears of “professional politicians”; I think that is an oxymoron. But there are many “career politicians” who become overly inflated with their power, forget who gave it to them and ignore their constituents. Our Founding Fathers included safeguards for abusers of power. There is the vote by We the People, sanctions and impeachment. Not all of our elected officials in Nevada take their responsibility seriously; it would be a welcome change if they assessed each other’s performance as an elected person. They could agree to forego their pay for failure to act; it may elevate the importance of every elected official.Often special interests and political party affiliation trump the desires of We the People. It is time to put political party aside. We have big problems. When those secondary considerations confound loyalty to the electorate, dismissing any effort to discuss, negotiate or compromise, there is no chance for workable solutions. It is simply irresponsible. Hands are important. When you shake someone’s hand be sincere. Place your hand on your heart when you salute the flag or sing the National Anthem. Use your hand to wipe away the tears of another’s loss or sorrow. Our hands help us pray, heal, sooth and support friendship and acceptance. I strongly advise you to avoid pointing one of those fingers on your hand at someone else. Blame is a lame game. Long ago, I learned a simple lesson: “Every time you point your finger at someone else, remember three others are pointing right at you.” Let’s join hands and fix our problems, help our neighbors and enjoy our lives as Americans — together.• Ann Bednarski of Carson City is a career educator and journalist.