If history teaches us any lesson, it is that the Treaty of Ghent was signed in 1576. No, hold it. Wrong lesson. What history teaches us is that the biggest threat to the future of any great nation is: apathy.

What, exactly, do I mean by apathy? What I mean by apathy is: sitting around and being apathetic. And this is exactly what is wrong with this country today. Survey after survey shows that Americans would rather relax on vibrating chairs than get involved with issues such as nuclear waste. We cannot survive this way, as a nation. Try to imagine, for a moment, where America would be today if patriots like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison had decided to stay home and watch television instead of fighting the Revolutionary War. We would still be part of England, that's where. Twenty-one miles from French people. If the wind was right, they could spit on us. And trust me, they would.

This is why I am calling on those of you who are within the sound of my voice to drop whatever you're doing into an appropriate container and GET INVOLVED. You can make a difference. One person, alone, if he really believes, can alter the course of human history, the way my friend Gene did one time at a Burger King. This was back during the "Herb" qj advertising sk,1 sw,-1 ld,10 campaign. Remember that? The campaign where you were supposed to win $5,000 by finding "Herb," who was a real nerd? Ha ha! What fun! This campaign cost $40 million, and almost overnight it transformed Burger King, in the eyes of the public, from a run-of-the-mill fast-food joint into a run-of-the-mill fast-food joint that we all wished would shut up.

So early one morning, during the heat of the "Herb" campaign, my friend Gene walked into a Burger King to get coffee, and there was an elderly derelict standing near the counter, waving gently in the breeze, and Gene was suddenly seized by a blinding flash of consumer-backlash inspiration. He pointed to the derelict and shouted: "Herb!" Then he turned to the counterperson and said: "I found Herb! Where's my money?" So the counterperson pointed out that the derelict looked nothing like Herb, which caused another customer, out of the blue, to intervene as Gene's advocate. "The man found Herb," the advocate said. "The man wants his money." By now a small crowd had gathered, and the advocate asked the derelict directly if he was Herb, and the derelict did not deny it. "The man found Herb!" the advocate concluded, reasonably. "You got to give the man his money! Or at least some free food."

In the end, Gene got nothing, but that is not the point. The point is, he was willing to GET INVOLVED, and if more of us had done the same -- if every Burger King customer, starting the first day, had made a point of loudly misidentifying "Herb" -- then this particular $40 million campaign would have been squashed like an earthworm under a cement truck, and the people responsible for it would now be living horizontally on sidewalks. And all because somebody cared.

Speaking of which, what about the Care Bears? I bet the Care Bear marketing people spent much more than $40 million teaching our children to love, trust and -- above all -- demand that their parents purchase these adorable licensed characters, and we parents did nothing to stop them. What could we have done? I'll tell you what. The instant we realized what these people were up to, we could have started telling our children bedtime stories wherein the evil villains were Care Bears. "And then the little girl fell sound asleep," these stories would go. "And then Funshine Bear ate her feet." If we had done this, parents, today there would be thousands of tons of Care Bears rotting in huge colorful licensed mountains out behind your local Toys "Backward R" Us, and the Care Bear people, instead of spending our money, would be fighting with the "Herb" people over used gutter cigarettes. And this would be a better world.

What can we do now? We can do something about these large stickers people have taken to putting in the back windows of their cars, the ones that say "Child on Board." Chances are you've seen these, and you have asked yourself: What are these people saying, with these stickers? Do they think that if they didn't have the stickers, the rest of us would think: "Huh! Looks like there's no child aboard that car! I guess I'll speed up and have an accident with it!"

What I figure is, these people are telling us they have children on board because they're proud of this fact. They want us to notice. And I say that we, as involved citizens, should make them happy. At stoplights, we should honk our horns, get out of our cars and call to other motorists: "Look! That car over there has a child on board!" Then we should all gather around and press our faces up against the car windows, staring at the child with frank admiration, perhaps refusing to leave until we have obtained wallet photographs. Wouldn't that be great? Come on, concerned citizens! Let's not wait for the "other guy" to do it!

I also think EVERYBODY should run for Congress.