Monday, August 15, 2011

Solutions 1

An amazing two mornings recently.

The first featured a full moon set in the west with an intense bright orange pre-sunrise to the east. My neck ached from all the swiveling as the sight lasted briefly.

The second was yesterday morning. A torrential downpour virtually from the moment I left my house at 3:00 AM until almost 6:00. I was trapped at the warehouse for a while as I did not dare try to load the car with the papers. The rain on the warehouse's tin roof was a constant pounding. Once I finally managed to load the car, my shirt was soaked completely through so I delivered the route topless. For the first 30 minutes on the road, each lowering of the window, even if for only a second or two brought in much wetness. Thankfully, the main downpour subsided but it was still a wet and uncomfortable delivery.

I recently watched a "panel discussion" type show in which one of the panelists claimed that America seems to have lost its enthusiasm for the future. Te speaker claimed that when he was young, there were all kinds of indications that Americans were eager and ready for what was on the horizon. He specifically mentioned the space program and its promise of new understandings of the universe and our place in it. Then yesterday, strangely enough, I watched most of the movie Back to the Future, and I was reminded of how the generation of the 50's had all the great technologies of today ahead of them and, seemed to know that those advancements were coming. Seemed, in a way, to believe that they deserved them but more importantly, were going to make sure that the future was bright. They would make it so.

Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

Then, today, there was a report that Warren Buffet is downright mad at those defending continued tax breaks for the super rich. I believed he used the word coddling, as in why are we coddling the people who are benefiting the most in these difficult economic times.

Is our selfishness the root of our problems? Have we become too concerned as to what we can get from society, what freebies we can grab, what monies we can finagle, what resources we can twist in our direction? As opposed to what we can earn. And what we can do to help others find the time, resources or opportunity to earn for themselves as well?

When the sports page discusses how much a wide receiver on a football team is worth, $40or $50 million and when the business section reveals the salaries of the top 100 CEO's in the area and details that their compensation grew by 8% in a time when the economy was stagnant, yet at the same time teachers, firefighters and police officers are losing their jobs, what does that say about us?

When that same paper also reports that literally thousands of children are dying from starvation in Somalia and that the resources of yet another third world country are being stripped and exported to its larger neighbor, but few if any letters to the editor or pundit opinions reflect this human catastrophe, what does that say about us?

We hear from some politicians that America is the greatest nation on earth, ever. Is or was? What will we be in 10 years, 20 years? What are we striving to be? And how will we measure our greatness or lack of it? By GDP? By number of fighter bombers?

Where is the national discussion on character? On vision? Where is our plan to eradicate disease or hunger? Where are the talks that get beyond 401K's, corporate bottom lines and compensation packages, and discuss job satisfaction, living wages and equality in benefits and opportunities, not just for those like you but for all Americans, and all humans. Perhaps our most important national deficit has nothing to do with debt but more to do with our inner strengths?

The greatest nation on earth must include a nation united in its vision for the future. Or at least united in the belief that we should have a vision for the future. But the future needs to be one which we create for ourselves, one day at a time. Each person, looking in the mirror, and saying yes, I made the planet better today or no, I was selfish and only sought my own rewards but tomorrow I will do better.

Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

Platitudes are easy to come by. You will read them here, you will encounter them in all media, you will be bombarded with them during the next 15 months leading up to the 2012 presidential election. But platitudes are all we will have, a collection of meaningless words, if we don't begin the task of identifying what it will mean to live in America in 2015, 2020.

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