If We Count Our Blessings

While discussing a useful politics that actually points to ownership of the future developing around us, it’s useful to discuss what’s really wrong with what we have now.  This piece from two years ago does just that.

My concern is no longer with politics, per se. “Politics,” as we know it, has come to be so totally divorced from policy it is largely meaningless anyway. It’s primarily about identity, which is what far too much of language is actually about.

So let’s instead talk about politics, the art and science of human interaction.

I am far more interested in anger as the primary response to … well, everything. Every interaction, artful or not, seems to produce a lot of anger. The pathology of this pathological response is worth thinking through in many ways – if for no other reason than to cool it down.

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Anxious New World

Before wisdom comes learning. Before learning comes observation. Before observation comes perspective.

Globalization, as we have all come to see it from our various cultures, is confusing at best. It appears chaotic even though it does have several key vectors of direction. These are increasing integration, increasing technology, and increasing need for resources. Somewhere between he cultural and political chaos and these strong directions there is a reasonable anxiety, often expressed very well in popular culture as dystopian fantasy. From the perspective of where we are today these forces appear to lead us off into something not just new but very likely out of control

Clearly, a different perspective or set of perspectives is necessary to produce the right observations which will lead to the appropriate learning and eventually wisdom. But what is that perspective?

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Three Warriors on a Muddy Field

The 2020 election is a very long way off. Much has to develop, particularly the candidates and their message. They will grow along with their crowds, refining their message and presence into a clear vision of how the nation reboots itself and renews for a new generation.

What’s remarkable at this stage is not just that the three leading candidates are women, but that as a unit they represent the spectrum of Democratic identity and policy. They’re likely to be the top contenders through the process as a result. They also have remarkably similar resumes and similar things to prove. In politics and personality, however, they create their own archetypes.

Is this going to be a choice between senators Harris, Klobuchar, and Warren? At this stage, they are at the very least the ones to watch. That is, by itself, an impressive and fascinating story.  In my own opinion, and this is all just my opinion, it’s going to be a good one.

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Grounding

On March 10, 2019, Ethiopian Air flight 409 crashed shortly after takeoff from Beirut. Radar and cockpit communications showed that the pilots struggled to keep the plane flying from the moment it rotated off the runway, eventually just falling out of the sky in a stall.

It was eerily similar to the rash of Lion Air 610 out of Jakarta on 29 October, 2018. Both crashes were of a kind that simply should not happen to a modern aircraft.

Since both incidents involved the relatively new Boeing 737 Max airplane, attention immediately centered on how safe the plane was. It seems like a simple decision – is this plane safe? But if you read a lot of the coverage of it, you might think this was entirely a political issue. Has everything, even safety, become a matter for politics and the questions at hand involving money and who looks bad?

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Getting Past Anxiety

When anyone is confronted with a new situation, it’s only natural to want to treat it just like something that they have experienced before. There may be a few tweaks necessary, of course, but can’t this just be handled like everything we’ve ever done before?

Anxiety in today’s world generally comes from a realization that this isn’t a good idea. The feeling is likely to come from the guts than the head, being an intuitive feeling more than a thought. But it’s there. This can easily be preyed on by hucksters looking for loyalty of various kinds as they shop solutions in search of problems. “This isn’t anything new,” the arguments always go, “It’s that THEY don’t want to do the right thing.”

There has to be a better way. And there is.

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Rail is Dead, Long Live Rail

Governor Newsom has officially ended California’s main high speed rail effort, cutting the project to the small section currently under construction. It’s a sad day for those of us who are supporters of high speed rail across the US for many reasons.

The most important reason to find this announcement upsetting is that it simply had to happen. This line, as conceived, planned, and implemented was dangerously flawed. Moving forward with this as the standard of rail in the US would cripple implementation across the nation.

It’s better off dead.  We’re all better off with it being dead.

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Halfway – Still Seeking Solace

As we approach the halfway point of the Trump administration, I think it’s worth re-iterating the message from two years ago, as we anticipated this mess.

Today is the big day. An new era full of uncertainty starts with the inauguration of Donald Trump.

God save the Republic.

I firmly believe it is critical to take the long view on this, since we are about to settle in for what is likely to be a tumultuous four years. We will have to pick our battles, declare victory where we can, and always keep our eyes on the prize. For this reason, and to keep our sanity, the wisdom of the ancients should be a primary source of comfort. Today’s readings are from the Tao Te Ching, as translated by Stan Rosenthal.

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