Risk Rap

Rapping About a World at Risk

American Evita

sarah-palin-legs-photoIs Sarah Palin the friendly and ever so lovely face of a new American Peronism? Is her resignation from office as Governor of Alaska the first step and necessary precondition of her coronation as titular head and leader of a new political party? Does it signal her desire to lead a movement that embraces the growing number of disaffected middle class Americans perplexed about their plunging standard of living and growing obsessively angered with insolvent and impotent government institutions inability to arrest the decline?

Everyday the institutions of government and constitutional law are being delegitimized by raucous Tea Partyers, abortion doctor assassins, family focus fanatics and political miscreants waving birth certificates screaming that they want their country back. We wrote about this back in October.  Please allow me to quote from our McCain’s Know Nothings post of 10/11/08.

“Sarah Palin’s masterful use of the rhetoric of division and suspicion “who is Barack Obama?” has stoked the ugly side of America’s political angst. The lipstick wearing attack dog has done her job well. She has skillfully tapped into voter sentiment that is frightened about their economic security, fed up with the self serving lies of our political leaders and furious about their powerlessness to exercise control to stop the radical changes occurring in their lives. The stasis of Bush Republicanism is being washed away in a tsunami of world events that is accelerating the pace of change and cultural transformation. Palin promises to change our inability to arrest the changes that are overwhelming Americans. Sarah’s minions just want it to stop. They want it to go away. They want it to stay the way things always were. America is on top. God is in his heaven and all is right with the world. They will accept nothing less then our full entitlement to the birthright of our American Exceptionalism; and unlike Easu we will not sell it or be tricked out of it by a fast talking Jacob that goes by the name of Barack.”

Sarah, “the barracuda” has a whole mythology springing up about her even as her pronouncements concerning vigilant hockey momdom (daughters teen pregnancy), pit bull fighter to the end (resignation as governor), irascible maverick (support of bridge to nowhere), impeccable governance ethics (improper use of state government funds) all paint a very different portrait of the super girl from Alaska. Her identity as the all American girl, who worked, rose and battled an establishment with nothing more then moxie and good old values has captured the hearts, support and imaginations of “real American’s” willing to fight against those seeking to undermine the values and ideals of our uniquely God blessed land.

Palin’s timely resignation stole the limelight from the Michael Jackson funereal spectacle; a nonstop orgy of media affectation that refused to let MJ’s troubled soul depart in peace.  Sarah’s announcement was a perfect foil and counterpoint to the ghoulish parade. Sarah’s photo op complete with overall fishing waders offered conclusive proof of how the still Governor of Alaska was working hard serving the needs of her constituents as her abandoned term of office was coming to a close. Sarah’s image of pulling in the nets bursting with sockeye could not have provided a more dramatic contrast to seeing MJ’s body bag being offloaded from a helicopter and placed into a ambulance for a trip to the Los Angeles morgue. It confirmed for her followers that Sarah’s way is filled with truth, light and a great catch as she stood beaming at the center of attention of a country obsessed with celebrity and a media that affirms their personal ethos du jour.

One of the reasons cited by Sarah for her resignation was that she was constantly under attack by the establishment. Sarah’s victimhood elicits empathy and a deep sense of identification from her countrymen. Middle America’s sense of victimization is quickly becoming its defining pathos.  Home foreclosures, job losses, bankruptcies, community instability and spiraling taxes are combustible issues ripping apart the social fabric of America’s middle class. The crushing pain is being expressed in a growing chorus of cries that Sarah’s political antenna is accurately attuned to. In turn, Sarah’s minions understand and validate her victimization that they believe she will overcome and triumph if she remains true to real American values. Persecuted Christians exhausted from the prolonged war on Christmas feel her pain. Family value proponents that yearn for a constitutional amendment to define marriage so as to exclude civil rights for the LGBT community are down with Sarah. Uber patriots who are convinced that terrorist lurk in the quiet shadows just off Main Street remain willing to cede their civil rights.  They also express a solid conviction to prosecute endless global wars as the only means to eradicate the terror threat  staunchly stand with  Sarah. Real American’s who live in a geography of anywhere USA that is not urban; or resides in an existential state of multicultural exclusion support Sarah. Those who are terrified by the hard edges of modernity and the difficult manageability of our complex society are arming themselves to the teeth to protect themselves from its ghostly specter take a cue from gun toting Sarah. And as Sarah’s supporters scream “drill baby drill” as a rallying cry to defend an expiring mode of life based upon the insatiable and unsustainable consumption of natural resources requiring the imperial projection of power and environmental degradation mindlessly shout “Sarah, Sarah, Sarah”.

Sarah, our self styled, self proclaimed maverick.  American’s steep themselves in the mythology of the outside gunslinger taking on established power elites to effect change. But I sense an alarming correlation that is closer to Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will” then Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”. Individualism counts and boldness wins out in the end in Sarah’s political morality fairy tale. But I see little in the actual trajectory of her career or her political pronouncements that suggest that she is an unconventional politician willing to lay it on the line to take principled stand against the power elite. Sarah’s principled stances are driven by political opportunism rather then courage.

Yes, Sarah is a perfect victim. White, hockey mom from the rural region. Liberal elite city slickers hate her for who she is. But as Sean Hannity is fond of saying, “let you hearts not be troubled” because as the world continues to hate America for it’s values Sarah remains on watch.  She is a sentinel of our arsenal of democracy protecting the common folk, Joe six packers and wannabe plumbers. This woman who rose to heights in this male dominated world got great legs, sports a nice dew and is quick with a wink and a smile.  She has seduced America and as national dissatisfaction grows with governmental institutions unable to address economic malaise and cultural deterioration, nationalistic sentiment and Sarah’s popularity will rise.  Unlike our current President, Sarah is American to the bone. Palin’s physical place of birth may have been Idaho; but her resignation as governor may have born her again as a new political force to be reckoned with.

You Tube Music Video: Madonna, Don’t Cry for Me Argentina

Risk: politics, Peronism

July 23, 2009 Posted by | Obama, Palin, politics, recession, republicans | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Upside To A Recession

yinyang2Like everything in life there are two sides to every coin. If the recession is hampering your ability to put some new coin into your piggy bank or if it drives you to break it open to help make ends meet, there may be some unintended positive consequences of this period of economic duress. Yesterday during a hike in the hills of beautiful Harriman State Park, a member of our troop spoke of a recent article she read in the New Your Times. The article was about how some people are responding to the loss of their jobs by taking up a physical fitness regimen. People who are now blessed with the gift of unoccupied time, excess energy and the need to quell anxiety are burning off the exigencies of fear with a vigorous workout. Some people are using the opportunity of being unemployed as a way to get back into shape. A good thing and an unexpected and unintended consequence of the recession. We began to think about some of the other positive unintended consequences born from the recession and we came up with the following items. Its good to accentuate the positive.

Lower Gas Prices: We see it and celebrate it at the pump every time we pull in to fill up. The economic downturn has quelled the worldwide demand for energy and oil. It is reflected in the lower prices we pay. The price of gas in Jersey has dropped by over 50% since the summer.

Healthy Environment: The demand for oil is falling because factories are operating at diminished capacities. Unoccupied office space needs less light and heat. People are turning down their thermostats to save money. Businesses are delivering less goods while people are commuting less to work and business travel is way down. The diminished use of fossil fuels is lessening the amount of carbon based emissions being released into the atmosphere. This gives Mother Earth a brief respite from our all out assault on her delicate ecological sensibilities. There is also a lot less noise pollution in my surburban neighborhood. The constant drone of speeding cars and the decelerating roar of jet engines initiating a landing has lessened greatly. Silence is golden.

More Time with Family: Spending less time at work provides more time to be with family. The kids need help with homework. Your spouse needs to know they are loved. Kids love to see you at their JV basketball game or watching them practice Tae Kwon Do at the local dojo. Little ones will forever remember the bed time stories you read to them. Goodnight Moon and the Run Away Bunny are bed time classics that will make you smile for the rest of your life. More time at home also allows you to turn off the Nanny Cam and stop being a virtual parent. You can now become one in the flesh. A virtual presence is good. Being physically, emotionally and mentally available for your family is better.

Eating More Healthy Foods: The recession may require us to trim down the food budget. One way to do this is by replacing all the processed foods we have become accustomed to buying and consuming because we didn’t have the time to cook meals using wholesome fresh foods. Now that we are blessed with more time and incented to save money we can replace the box of mac and cheese with the protein rich rice and beans. We can replace the frozen fish sticks with a fillet of fresh broiled fish accented with a sprig of rosemary. Yum Yum!

Reading More Books: Last week I needed to visit the main branch of the NY Public Library. I was pleasantly surprised to find a large line queuing at the entrance waiting for it to open. People can take the opportunity to fill their free time to read more books. Libraries are free and provide a rich offering of mind enriching services. Some will go back to school to get a degree, learn a new trade or acquire a new skill. Reading books also provide a wonderfully constructive escape from the harsh realities of a recession.

Quality of Life: It may seem counter intuitive but the recession can help you to upgrade your quality of life. Eliminating the expense of all those extra cable channels will dampen the temptation of watching “All in the Family” reruns or “The Titanic” for the sixth time. The changing economic realities of our lives will certainly create the possibilities for looking at new opportunities and explore the benefits of a simpler more active life. Getting back into nature, sports, learning, family, community service and pursuing the personal projects and dreams we have all sought to do can become real and can enhance the quality of our lives beyond our wildest imaginings.

Spiritual Development: Trying times will create opportunities for people to explore their inward selves. The Apostle James says we should consider difficulties as opportunities for growth. Growth occurs if one is faithful and willing to connect to solutions that are larger then oneself. That connection is made possible through an optimistic application of faith that believes that all things are possible and that the joy is truly in the journey. Living through tough economic times may not be fun but it can be a joyous experience. If we are mindful we can detect the presence of the heavenly born opportunities that are the unintended consequences of our time of trail. If we remain grateful we will be blessed with sight to realize the abundant grace we enjoy in the midst of our trying circumstances. As we live life abundantly we need to remember to share it with others so that our portion of joy may double.

You Tube Video: Bing Crosby & Bette Midler: Accentuate the Positive

Risk: negativism, pessimism, faith

February 22, 2009 Posted by | economics, faith, psychology, recession | , , | Leave a comment

We Must Disenthrall Ourselves

lincoln-collage1The wisdom resonating from this voice that now belongs to the ages still begs his countrymen to heed it. Lincoln’s admonition that his countrymen must disenthrall themselves to meet the momentous challenges of the time continues to speak to the dire condition of our nation today. Lincoln asks us to let go of our intransigence and the tired dogmas that we cling too. In a world rife with uncertainty and risk, surrounding us in a whirling maelstrom of existential dread, emotional responses to pressing problems born from fear of a perceived pending doom is insufficient and dangerous. We must mount a constructive response of considered actions to safely land our ship of state in a safe harbor. It is our pathway to becoming whole once again.

The great national hero Captain Sully was successful because he refused to succumb to the quickly deteriorating conditions that were enveloping him and the plane. He disenthralled himself from the emotional distraction of pending doom. He kept the wings level, his nose up and maintained the right speed. Captain Sully landed the plane in the most trying circumstances and became an example of how we must respond get through our national crisis.

Our politicians in Washington can learn much by heeding Mr. Lincoln’s words and studying Captain Sully’s actions. Our elected officials are enthralled with the righteousness of their ideals; contributing to a dreary deadlock of legislative stasis and partisan intractability. Politicians got to get over themselves and begin to serve their largest constituency and not their largest contributors.

Large corporations need to become disenthralled of their self perceived cleverness. Many believe that major investments in applied intelligence create a culture of insularity that hedges all risks and protects every business move. This allows corporate executives to hide behind a wall of opaqueness. They buy the best and brightest minds from our esteemed business schools convinced that this treasure of intellectual capital will protect them. They believe the digital blips of risk models to be sparkling Rosetta Stones containing the secrets that unlock the mysteries of effective risk management. The codified results of these algorithmic exercises are revered as holy Dead Sea Scrolls that offers the protection of an supernatural mojo. This is the thinking of a bankrupt brain trust.

As citizens of the worlds greatest military power we must disenthrall ourselves from the conviction that the powers of our armies, superior technologies and well stocked arsenals is our country’s surest way to protect our beloved country. The power of an enlightened citizenry educated in a vibrant public school system is the bulwark of a democratic republic and its surest defense. Our enlightenment will be a lamp to those who value liberty; as will our practice to extend the hand of peace to all nations through considered diplomacy and an honest search for shared interests.

As a people we must disenthrall ourselves from the petty preoccupations, dogmas and prejudices that consume our time and attention. I believe too many of my countrymen are more impassioned about A Rods admission of steroid use then they are about the substances that control and dictate our behaviors and beliefs and the ever present and growing dangers to our democratic way of life.

We’ll end with the words from the great man himself.

Happy birthday President Lincoln.

“The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

You Tube Video: George Harrison, Beware of Darkness

Risk: fear, discernment, action

February 16, 2009 Posted by | Civil Rights, culture, gay rights, philosophy, psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Awkward Juxtapositions

Narcissus Falls in Love

Narcissus Falls in Love

We are committed to a blog entry every day. It’s a tough assignment trying to fit it in with everything else that is necessary to sustain our business and our lives but we think it important. Like Narcissus we too have fallen in love with our own reflections.

We do believe that consistency is its own reward and that the joy is truly in the journey. We are blessed to have come to the realization that the process of blogging helps us to understand and discover ourselves as much as it helps you understand and discover us. In this journey of discovery we hope we don’t scare you away.

That brings us back to the purpose of this blog, Risk Rap. Our goal to examine risk and its impact on our culture and lives presents a broad enough pallet that pretty much gives us carte blanche to opine on all matters concerning politics, economics, arts, religion and social issues.

The good news is that we can do whatever we want. The bad news is we can do whatever we want. Herein lays our risk tale for today. Before each entry I feel compelled to offer a warning to readers that this blog has a secret agenda. That agenda is to support the narrow commercial interests, marketing strategy and the facilitation of transactions in the products of our company, Sum2.

Yes there was a Sum1 (isn’t there always a someone?). So we must ask ourselves, what does the Pope, The Rice Crisis, the Iraq War, Hank Paulson and the banking crisis have to do with the promotion of our products and our new e-commerce platform?

Clearly these macro risk factors impact the broad commercial interests of our clients and our potential clients. But the interconnection of commerce, politics, culture and religion more often creates awkward juxtapositions that are alien to the common language of commercial promotion and product marketing. Sadly we are at risk of erecting barriers to our goal of effecting commercial transactions. This alone produces some interesting psycho graphic clues about the author of this blog. Perhaps we should offer a warning to ourselves.

We’ll continue to do the math and try to offer measured sober assessments of our world at risk and how we can offer solutions to temper the potentially negative aspects of risk while enhancing the positive results and benefits of taking calculated risks. That is what Risk Rap is all about.

We’ll remain hopeful that readers will recognize the role our products play in helping them assess risk in their world while we continue to assess and weigh the power of the pen with the restraint of the pen and tongue to support our narrow commercial interests.

You Tube Music Video: Ella Fitzgerald, A Tisket A Tasket


Risk: Personal, Commercial


February 16, 2009 Posted by | commerce, psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

Ghetto of Fear

Banksy BangAmidst our poverty of riches we tremble with fear and loathing. We resent the blessings The Almighty has so richly conferred upon us. A maddening clamor of a million incessant voices ceaselessly whisper “be afraid, be very afraid” dispatching us on an endless war with the infinite armies of darkness that we perceive to encircle us. This provokes an intense inner struggle with a seditious soul, a self saboteur, that endlessly works to undermine our emancipation from the ghetto of fear.

Our state of the nation mirrors our psychic state. Barraged with a fusillade of negativity from a multichannel digital discourse of real time bad news our physical state of being and virtual emotional resources are more depleted then the Treasury Department’s account balance after a TARP payment. War, terrorism, recession, home foreclosures, wealth dissipation, culture wars, job losses, the calamities go on ad infinitum. This is our daily bread. During the height of the Civil War in Northern Ireland I recall the picture of a child passing a graffiti strewn wall scripted with the question, “what will the monster bring today?” Indeed, what will our monsters bring today? Most likely more of the same. And it is the ongoing sameness of ever increasing distress that makes the crisis du jour just another routine day. Crisis has become the new normal.

We think ourselves to be unique in our victimization. Victimhood is a bad damn hood to be from if there ever was a bad hood to be from. Our national posture during the past 8 years under Bush has exclusively been about our victimization at the hands of the terrorists. We believed our victimization to be peculiarly ours because the evil doers hate us for who we are. Bush nursed it into a xenophobic obsession that led us to surrender our civil liberties, invade a sovereign nation to depose its head of state and use interrogation methods and tools refined by Spanish Iquisitioners 4 centuries ago. We rationalize it by promoting the fear that the consequences of another strike will be to terrible to suffer. It as if the entire history of civilization had never known the slaughter of innocents, the sacking of cities, the devastation of blight, plague and famine and the excessive collateral damage from the clash of civilizations. Indeed if history teaches us anything it is that egregious conflict is just another day at the office.

Fear has taken up full residency within many houses of worship. Too many sermons emanating from the pulpit preach of a vengeful God, heard by the trembling souls of congregants filling the pews responding with an affirmative amen. Fundamentalist preachers, imams and priests of all religious stripes and secular ideologies carefully construct a theology of fear to avoid eternal or temporal damnation. They warn against having your soul cast into eternal lakes of fire. Said Thomas Paine, “Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.” The admission price to the eternal paradise promised demands a vengeful soul fired by the vulcanism of fear.

Guarding your eternal well being or next life manifestation is available only by strict adherence to the fundamental precepts of a narrow belief. Non-believers are damned. Backsliders are shunned. Heretics are tortured and beheaded. Given the choice between a beheading and fearful submission to a jealous deity most will eat the bread of fear a jealous deity abundantly offers. Thomas Paine wrote that “Of all the tyrannies that afflict mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst. Every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in, but this attempts a stride beyond the grave and seeks to pursue us into eternity.”

These victims of conviction don’t get better they just continue to be victimized. The Pharisees warned Jesus that it was unlawful to heal on the Sabbath. Right wing conservatives need to consult this passage to understand why they should support universal health care. True conservatives are fearful this program is the sure road to socialism. Jesus asks what is more important, to cure the sick or worry if it meets the criteria of some stale dogma? I agree with Jesus and ask conservatives not to be fearful to heal on the Sabbath.

There is a comfort with the certitude the ideology of fear offers. One need no longer wrestle with the great cosmological questions of a universe that is older then 6,000 years or Darwin’s theories of natural selection and the theory of evolution to understand how species evolve. The tenants of secularism, liberalism and humanism as flowering ideals of the Age of Reason can be dispensed with as well. As we disallow the satanic verses concealed within the learned tomes of humanist literature; America, the grandest political expression of the Age of Enlightenment democratic foundations will crumble due to a poverty stricken citizenry ignorant of the cradle that suckled our legacy of liberty.

Fearful that these ideas threaten a fundamental understanding of God as the source and creator of all things they demand that their deity hide away from the prism of science, anthropology and history. Such a God is a small God indeed. It demonstrates how fear robs the human experience of a rich spiritualism and deeper relationship with a God of their understanding; condemning the true believer to a bankrupt religion of stale dogmas and inert ritualism. The Infinite One’s knowableness surpasses all understanding. All of humanity’s trite scientific inventions and worldly philosophies occupy but a minuscule portion of a single cell within God’s cranium. The All Knowing One would not have allowed the sciences, arts, philosophy and other branches of knowledge to flourish if it was not useful to serving the development of humanity and enriched our understanding of the Beneficent Ones love for all creation.

A truth I heard spoken in the rooms is that as children we are afraid of the dark. As we grow into adulthood we become terrified of the light. This profound truth speaks plainly about our mental, emotional and spiritual condition.  Children fear darkness because they think that they are alone. They tremble under their covers unaware of the protection and security of their home and a guardians presence in an adjoining room who sits ever mindful of a duty to protect the child. Darkness confronts children with a wall of uncertainty conjured from an untamed imagination. The capability to comprehend and understand the condition of darkness is merely an absence of light and is not a lair of monsters and bogymen. In workplaces all over the world workers tremble with fear in the cubicles and workshops fearing the delivery of the dreaded pink slip that condemns the worker to an awful redundancy and a certain downsizing in their standard of living. It may come or it may not. Fear and conjecture will not make it go away.

Fear is abolished when the child becomes safe in the knowledge that their guardian is near and remain fully secure in a comfortable bed. Darkness then becomes a place that doesn’t threaten but is an ideal condition where rest and the restorative power of sleep can be realized. We should engage the darkness that surrounds our nation not hide under the blankets or blindly flail away at it in an exhausting exercise of shadow boxing. It presents numerous opportunities for our nation to engage our demons and gain a better understanding of our country’s enemies and how we can disarm conflict by discovering the common ground of our shared humanity.

Paradoxically as adults we become fearful of the light. We ignore Socrates advise about the undesirability of an unexamined life. We prefer pathways of avoidance to stay secure in our ignorance. Agonizingly fearful about confronting the personal demons that continually haunt us we prefer to sit in darkness content to engage our guilt and shame in an ongoing conversation with ourselves; chaining us to the paralysis of a broken past.

We are only as sick as our secrets. Think about the sick soul of Bernard Madoff. Had he only brought to light many years ago that some of his investments did not perform well. His clients would have understood and forgiven him. He would have been off the hook and not beholden to the damnable demands of a larcenous ego and the financial ruin it brought to the people who trusted him. Or think about the obsessive mania of Dick Cheney to withhold information about events and discussions he held with parties that determined the fate and well being of all Americans. Transparency shines the light of disclosure and assessment on things vitally in need of clarity. Mature adults shine a light on themselves to conduct sober assessments and initiate corrective actions to grow and become more perfect.

The Apostle Paul reminds us not to be anxious in anything. It is an unfortunate circumstance that we don’t embrace this teaching. We have allowed fear to move into our neighborhoods and it has fully expropriated the fine residents of our communities. Fear has commandeered our country and bent it to its ugly will. Fear forces us to react to challenges with anger to engage in an endless vendetta that imprisons and tortures our spirit. It has separated us from one another with suspicion and denigrates our sacred relationship with the natural world.

We have allowed fear to become the omnipresent existential condition of our soul. It has fully eradicated the holy spirit from its rightful place as the unifying force that brings us all together in the human family. Fear is a pernicious millstone that grinds away our earthly home. Fear can be eradicated with courage reason, tolerance and faith. Certainly worthy vehicles to consider for an exodus from the ghetto of fear.

You Tube Video: War, The World Is A Ghetto

You Tube Video: Elvis Presley, In The Ghetto

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Bible, culture, democracy, faith, jazz, life, religion, terrorism, war | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When I Was a Child

On Thanksgiving Day in 1973 I trotted off a football field knowing I played my last game. In my mind I kept repeating the words, “when I was child I acted like a child and now its time to put away childish things.” Like many teenagers, athletics had been a very large part of my life and comprised a good portion of my identity of who I was as a person and how I defined myself. I was a good athlete but a not so good student. I intuitively realized that if I were to succeed in college I would have to devote the energy and attention to academics that I had previously given to athletics. So as I walked off that field with my team as league champions I knew it was time to put away childish things if I were to progress to the next stage of life as a young man. It was a turning point where a teenager begins a journey to manhood by stepping away from the loves of his youth.

President Obama’s Inaugural Address cited the same verse from Corinthians. Apostle Paul’s words are often cited at Christian weddings as testimony to the supremacy and power of love.  President Obama’s purpose in citing St. Paul was to wed Americans to his clarion call to come to the service of the nation in a dire hour of need. Yet on a deeper level the citation is more of a transformational call that asks us not to reassemble the vestiges of a broken past but to engage in the earnest work to grow into a more mature, sober and steadfast nation.

In the history of civilization the USA is a very young nation. Its been only 234 years since the America declared its independence to end colonial rule. As political cultures go we are but a precocious adolescent. Our adoringly daring and quixotic youthfulness has marveled the nations and people of the world. For the last century America has roamed about the aisles of the globe like a bull in a china shop at times seemingly ambivalent to the collateral damage the path of its will has wrought. The ego of an unrestrained adolescent is a difficult bull to tame. President Obama’s call to leave the childishness and sometimes foolish selfishness of youth is a call most worthy of our attention and may help to preserve this more perfect union for the future generations of citizens.

The stultifying behaviors Americans need to leave behind are numerous. None more so then the selfish sense of entitlement that warps our value system and cripples our sense of a shared humanity. Too many people believe that the pursuit of property is a divine right encoded into our cultural DNA entitling American’s to anything they can grab. Many believe this is codified in some celestial capitalist manifesto bill of rights that assures that we must be first in line, receive the greatest portion, can go through anyone or any thing to realize desires, can rationalize aggressive behavior with a socio-religio creedo “that God helps those who help themselves”, is recused from answering the question “when enough is actually enough”, and will act on the principle of “never ask permission because you can always apologize later”. Like a child tethered into a shopping cart seat grabbing everything off the supermarket shelves as his perplexed parent wanders down overstocked  isles  we need to recognize these behavior flaws and learn not to be slaves to them.

Many believe this sense of personal entitlement is the well earned dividend of American exceptionalism. But American exceptionalism is more a gift of grace then an entitled dividend. Yes America is an exceptional place because of its democratic ideals, affirmative culture and freedoms protected by our constitution. It is not about being above the rules all others must live by. American exceptionalism is about responsibility. This exceptionalism requires us to be stewards of our natural abundance and guardians of liberty’s light. The Pilgrims understood this well and thought that this would be the celestial yardstick by which the Beneficent One will judge the recipients of these divine gifts.

As a culture we have badly confused the meaning of freedom as a society with freedom to consume and acquire material things. Americans need to take only what one needs and bless their equitable share of apportionment. We need to share in the reward for responsibility that others assume while affording patience to let others equally deserving have their earned turn and make a genuine effort to give something back for the general good.

A definition of adulthood is one who accepts responsibility for choices. If American’s want to fight wars in Iraq we must be prepared to suffer the loss of opportunities the cost of war surely brings with it. If American’s don’t want to pay taxes they better be prepared to suffer the closing of the local firehouse, poor roads, dangerous bridges, decrepit schools, lax regulatory protections, no social security and masses of people falling through safety nets creating social discord and displacement. Mature adults prioritize what issues are most important and live with their choices. Americans need to make sober assessments of what is needed and discern wisely how it will act.

The healthy soul of a mature nation treasures the meaning of democracy and the responsibility its protection places on its citizens. That means serving on jury duty and voting in elections. That means getting involved in the schools and communities. That means preserving and strengthening public schools because the defeat of ignorance is liberty’s surest sentinel. That means transparency in government and an undying commitment to civil discourse and the protection of  liberty for all citizens.

Adults believe it is better to desire mercy then demand sacrifice. Americans must understand that the projection of its power as a nation is not measured in military capabilities but how effectively it can mitigate conflict with diplomacy, arbitration and the relentless pursuit of justice. Our nations expenditures and exertions in pursuit of war denigrates the respect for life, erodes our world leadership, bankrupts our treasury and defies the spirit of the people.

The time is now America. We must put away the childish things that prohibit our national growth. The clothes of our former selves no longer fit. We must don a new golden fleece that we alone can weave. As we take up the call of our new president to set aside childish things we will begin to perceive as we peer through the glass darkly a new vision of what we are capable of becoming. It is then that we will rightfully reclaim our birthright affirming that our nation is that shining light of liberty and freedom that cannot be extinguished.

That will be something to behold.

You Tube Video: Song of the Sirens, Go To Sleep Little Baby

Risk: refusing to grow up

January 23, 2009 Posted by | culture, democracy, folk, Obama | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Terrorists Win

Banksy

As the United States begins an extended celebratory weekend to commemorate and honor the historic election of Barack Obama, the nation seems swept up in an immediate and intimate sense of history in the making. Most Americans are hopeful that the Obama Administration will turn a page on the damaging partisanship, fear mongering and narrow ideological rancor that has been the hallmark of recent Washington politics.

Millions of citizens are expected to make a pilgrimage to the citadel of world democracy to witness and participate in this historic event. Our nation has invested much hope in this man to turn the page and the fortunes of our nation around. The United States and the world are eagerly watching, praying, anticipating, eager to touch, experience and witness this event. For the rest of our lives the question will be asked, where were you on the day Obama took office? What were your thoughts? What was your opinion about what he said during his inaugural address?

For children in the Oakland Public Schools the answer will be sitting through another nondescript day of classes because the school board has prohibited the live viewing of the event due to fear that something bad will happen. I am unsure and very dismayed about where this type of thinking comes from. God forbid if something terrible does happen; the teacher can quickly turn off the TV to protect the students from witnessing any bloody carnage that may occur if terrorists do strike.

Its most unfortunate to deprive our children of witnessing this historic event. The peaceful transformation of power is a vital event all Americans should witness in order to understand and appreciate its deep significance for the freedoms a democratic republic offers. The Oakland School Board has ceded an opportunity to offer its students a once in a life time learning experience due to an overriding fear of terrorism. Fearful people are not free people. Its a lesson that the Oakland Public Schools need to learn.

The terrorists win this one.

You Tube Video: Dusty Springfield, Spooky

Risk: education, psychology

January 17, 2009 Posted by | Banksy, education, government, pop, psychology, terrorism, TV | , , , , , , | Leave a comment