The Ongoing Story

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February 4, 2020-

As is my wont, I watched the State of the Union Address, and part of the “opposition response”.  I paid close attention to what was said, to the enthusiasm of the speakers’ supporters and to the reactions of the speakers’ critics.

President Trump’s speech was fairly good on specifics, with regard to what he considers his administration’s accomplishments and bullish on what he sees ahead-should he be re-elected.  There were fine moments: Carl and Marsha Mueller, from Prescott, honoured in the sacrifice of their daughter to the IS mayhem; Rush Limbaugh, with whom I often disagree, but who has been generous to the people of the Midwest and who is now in the fight of his life, against cancer, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom; the mother and children from North Carolina, re-united with their soldier husband and father; the young man from here in Arizona, honoured for his interest in space exploration, alongside his great grandfather, a Tuskegee Airman,  who himself was promoted to Brigadier General, earlier in the day.  General McGee is 100 years of age.

There was also the hubris, which has been associated with this President, but has also been expressed by several of his predecessors, in their own detailing of accomplishments.  In the end, though, Donald Trump shared a thought with which few can realistically argue:  “America’s best days are yet to come.”  In truth, mankind’s best days are yet to come.

Both speakers, (Governor Whitmer, of Michigan, being the respondent), appealed to our sense of history and to a semblance of decency.  Both expressed pride and confidence in the ability of our nation’s youth.  Both faced rudeness from opponents, and ebullience from supporters.  More’s the pity.

Our best days are yet to come.  This will happen, when we stop seeing our leaders as mere extensions of ourselves; indeed, when we stop seeing other people as mere extensions of ourselves, in terms of what we think they should think, say and do.  When the dreams of each person become worthy of consideration, when they are validated in their goodness, when they are challenged and lovingly corrected in their elements of error or destructiveness, then will Humanity realize its true greatness.  When we truly learn to listen to each other, to link arms and celebrate one another’s humanity, then will our nation,  and our planet, begin to truly shine.

Our best days are yet to come.

On Unity

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December 16, 2019-

The subjects of who is responsible and of how much should we, as a human race, be working together, have resurfaced, in response to TIME’s selection of its 2019 Person of the Year.   I have discussed that particular matter, in an earlier post, and so will not belabour the point.

Conservatives are incensed that seemingly irresponsible progressives are in the ascendancy, with regard to environmental matters.  Those on the Left, likewise, regard ANY involvement by large business interests and nationalist groups, in the environmental movement, as suspect.

The facts, as always, paint a more complex picture.  A politically conservative team, led by Scott Presler, has made its way around the United States, cleaning up mounds of trash and debris in places like Newark,Baltimore, Los Angeles and Chicago.  One of the most reliable environmental disaster response teams on the planet is Team Rubicon,  made up largely of political conservatives, who also happen to have a solid combination of heart and disaster recovery expertise.   I have been part of a local group, here in Prescott, who cleaned up an abandoned homeless people’s camp, in early Fall of this year.  While they didn’t appreciate my political views, they did appreciate the help.

There are no shortage of people on the Left who help clean up the detritus, as well.  Indeed, Team Rubicon and Mr. Presler’s group hardly conduct political litmus tests of their volunteers.  Politics, simply put, should not be a distraction.  In the end, the Creator put us all here and we all have to live with what is.

There are as many ways to face our planet’s changing climate-which is a cycle, and no more a myth than the cycle which eliminated so much life during the Cambrian and Cretaceous Periods.  Mankind will not be eliminated by this cycle.  We do, however, have the responsibility of stewardship for our world, and there as many ways to respond to the challenge, as there are points of view.  All are needed here.

Two responses that will not accomplish what is needed are: 1. Doing nothing and 2. Throwing money, willy-nilly, at the events. Indeed, the controversial Ms. Thunberg has herself cautioned against a Green New Deal, in the sense that rushing into responding may cause more harm than good.  Plans must be made, and they need to consider as many possible outcomes in advance as is humanly possible.  Conservatives, with their command of Outcomes-based Models, can help greatly in this regard.  Progressives, with their commitment to social justice, can provide the psychological and emotional heft, as well as a fair share of intellectual awareness, to the process.

We can, moreover, do without the divisive extremism-that, “if THOSE people are involved, then count me out. ”   I would have strongly advised Greta Thunberg to so sit down with President Trump (or any other critic she may encounter) and explain her views, as clearly as possible, whilst giving him an opportunity to explain his, in a coherent manner. Neither of them are responsible for the other’s reaction, so it does not strike me as a fool’s errand.  For my part, I do not approach my own critics with anything less than dignified respect.

Unity requires no less.

 

It Has Come To This

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November 11, 2016, Prescott-  I had an exemplary Veteran’s Day.  Marching with a small group of humanitarians, known as Yavapai County Angels, I helped to send the message that, as I wrote yesterday, conservatives are not monsters and reaching out to those in need is a universal calling.

At a lunch afterward, the vocal women in our group excoriated anyone whose politics were not in line with the most ultraconservative viewpoint.   Yet, in the next breath, they extolled the estimable Dr. Ben Carson- hardly a dead ringer for Attila the Hun.  This tells me that Tea Party members are as fearful and confused as their “opposite numbers”, who have spent the past few days protesting and causing moderate mayhem, in several cities, large and small, from Flagstaff, AZ and Portland, to Dublin and Tokyo.

In my humble view, Donald  J.Trump, Sr. has 180 days to establish that he has a keen sense of right and wrong, and the ability to rein in both his own impulses and those of the most vulgar among us.  Barack Obama had to coach his own Vice President to not use profanity in any situation where words could POSSIBLY be overheard, then or later, by impressionable children.  Mr. Trump’s position may be somewhat reversed- it may fall to the devout Michael Pence to coach his boss, in the finer points of the Lord’s English.

Then, there is policy- and law.  My table mates want to see the recently ousted sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio, as Secretary of Homeland Security.  I do not, if only for the simple reason that the stress would likely kill the man- he is 84.  There are more cogent reasons why I would not be in favour of such an appointment- but why quibble?  Suffice it to say, wanting to see people in high office, just because those people are loud and agree with one’s fear-based thinking, is exactly what gets nations in dire trouble.  Those on the Left need to remember this, just as much as those on the Right.

I want to see a Million Woman March take place- not to stop the inauguration of Mr. Trump, but to inform it, nonviolently, civilly and clearly.  It has come to this:  We are an organic whole.  The right hand cannot slap, stab, pester, annoy or bullyrag the left hand- or vice versa.

Aloneness at the Top

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August 23, 2016, Prescott- It’s time to take a break from the day-to-day, and think about our leaders, or those who purport to be such.  In a conversation this afternoon, the three of us noted that the school principal has an intense burden, not going out among the staff as often as people seem to want.  When she has shown up, her demeanor is pleasant enough, though the message I get is “Don’t make my work any harder, please.”

I remember having the sense, particularly in my first principalship, of being very much without friends.  My wife was forty miles away, at another school and son was only 10, and trying to juggle going back and forth between two schools, so as not to miss either of us too much.  The staff at my school was cordial, but after work, I went home to the dreariness of DirecTV and a diet of VH1.  The community, egged on by a local racist, was rather on the hostile side.

I reflected on these notions this afternoon, whilst listening to the author of a new book on Donald Trump.  He views his subject as pretty much a loner- a gladhander, yes, but one who tends to prefer his own company- outside of the work day.  Hillary Clinton seems equally a duck out of water, when in the company of strangers, after a certain amount of time.  Barack Obama is engrossed in his family unit, and the company of a small circle of friends.  Indeed, we have to go back to Bill Clinton to see a leader who relishes the crowd, and before him, all the way to John F. Kennedy.

I feel for our leaders, whether local or national.  The late Shah of Iran once remarked, in an interview with the journalist Oriana Fallaci, that, were he to have it all to do over again, he would want to be anything other than a king.  The crush upon a mere mortal has to be both deafening and suffocating.  Most people appreciate, and expect, a leader who will put him/herself aside, as it were, and rush to the side of the suffering.  Many, from George Washington on, wished to do just that- until, in modern times, the combination of security concerns, open calls for harm to be done to said leader, and the seeming ingratitude of some local communities, have led to a pullback by the Comforter-in-Chief, as we have seen in the second Obama term.

Could it be that we, the people, need to reassess our attitudes towards those whom we elect to manage our civic affairs?