2008 is expected to be a very “political” year – especially in the United States of America. The following are a few points that I feel are often forgotten:
*The government/political system of the United States is a republic NOT a democracy. It was designed that way to prevent mob rule. Representatives do not necessarily reflect the “majority” (of even those that elected them). Those that do usually are not LEADERS. The best leaders are often those who do what is “unpopular”. People often object to/resist what is really in their own “best interest”. Good leaders are those that consider/do what is “best” for (the majority of) those they are responsible/accountable.
*U.S. Presidents are chosen by delegates to the Electoral College, NOT the general public. Like the majority of those serving in a government capacity, state delegates are NOT elected. Those that ARE elected often get too much credit or blame for things that wouldn’t change regardless of who was in office. It is easy and apparently “popular” for many people to criticize/judge their leaders/representatives from the “sidelines” – with no evidence that they could do any “better”. Like sports in this country, only a small minority of people actually participate. Most spectators/fans have never played. Almost all political candidates and “media” are talking about CHANGE. That can only really happen if more people get (personally) involved. Got an opinion or idea? Great! Don’t just talk; do something. Lead, follow, or get out of the way (of those that will). Most of all, be FOR something, not (just) against something/someone!
*Few things in life, law, religion, or politics are truly “black or white”. The population of this country/world certainly is not! Many of the “problems” in this country/world are due mainly in part from NOT seeing or accepting that there are many, many alternatives to how we (have been taught to) think/live. There is almost never one “right” way with all others wrong. But for things to change WE must change.
*Americans tend to take far too many things for granted – and are thus extremely “vulnerable” (to control or loss). Not only are Americans becoming increasingly dependent upon “technology” but they no longer seem to even be aware of let alone appreciate the few who provide almost everything they need to live: their food, water, power, housing, medical care, waste disposal, and a variety of consumer goods, services, transportation, and protection.
As people become more “disconnected” from/less knowledgeable about almost every aspect of their infrastructure, they are more at risk for catastrophe if/when there is any disruption. We need to reverse the trend of specialization and deferment of almost every aspect of life to (professional) “experts”. People need to stop pretending that they do not need to know, understand or care about things that may not “interest” them. Entertainment seems to have become the highest value. Being ignorant and apathetic about government and politics, history and geography, other languages, religions and cultures contribute to our problems with other countries, but the biggest problem domestically/within the country is probably the emphasis of “rights” over responsibilities.
*Ideas are “contagious” – and do not need to good ones to catch on. A particularly harmful “mind virus” that seems to have “infected” the majority of the U.S. population is that “rights” of the individual are more important the responsibilities to the community/country as a whole. Individual Americans can be quite generous – especially with their money – but most have a short attention span and little commitment to getting “personally” involved. The only “service” most people seem to provide to their community/nation is “lip service”. This is particularly true regarding emergency and protective services.
Those serving in medical, fire, police or military occupations only seem to get very limited acknowledgment or gratitude for the importance of what they do. If more people took responsibility for their actions – and those around them – their would be less need for “professional intervention”. And if more people were willing to serve – even for a short time – there would be less strain on the very FEW tasked with responding on a full-time basis. While I’m at it, ranchers, farmers, fishermen, truckers, garbage collectors, and LOT of others providing essential services get virtually no recognition, respect, or relief. But what is needed much more than just greater awareness and appreciation for what people do (for us) is assuming responsibility for the well-being of those around us – including those we do not personally know – as if they were part of our (extended) family…because in many ways they are!
*I have very mixed feeling about the BRIEF (“politically correct”?) applause people feel obligated to give to those introduced as being in the military and returning from Iraq (or Afghanistan). I’m not sure how to react. On one hand I am pleased that they are at least acknowledged – since with the exception of Veteran’s Day parades, I do not remember any applause for me or ANYONE serving prior to the “Gulf Wars”. Perhaps it is because we were not perceived as “winning”. Few seem to remember all the places we were – and all those we lost. Which is why on the other hand I feel upset. If people really “cared” – and wanted to “support THEIR troops” – then a lot more of them should join them. I know people serving in Iraq for the THIRD time – each deployment longer than the last. There is NO reason in a country as large as ours that the SAME FEW people need be the ONLY ones to go – on “behalf” of a mainly ungrateful nation. I do not like the word “troops”; it makes it easy to forget that they are really American mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, in uniform willing to go where asked by ELECTED civilian “authorities”. The men and women serving in our military do NOT make “OUR” policy, they only carry it out – FOR US (in principle, even if not reality). For that, if nothing else, they deserve our respect and gratitude.
*Finally, a few words about “ending the war”. Although I did NOT support the first invasion of Iraq in 1991 and the following 12 years of sanctions and almost daily bombing, let alone the second invasion and ongoing occupation, thinking a new President can just withdraw all our “troops” and “end the war” is unrealistic. First, because the “war” will continue whether we are there or not. It is our policy more than our presence that must change. We must stop expecting someone ELSE to serve.
Political leaders should be REQUIRED to BOTH have served themselves AND have at least one family member at risk/”in harms way” before committing the country to military action. I also think it is the duty of every citizen to do some sort of national (but not necessarily military) service. When EVERY family has something at stake, people tend to make better decisions. At this point, we are sort of “stuck” and not even for good reasons – so we better start creating some (REAL ones) and do something good since were there. We cannot just leave and think everything will be okay.
Yes, the “war” is VERY expensive – and a “waste” of our “resources” – including not only the lives of those who die, but the far more numerous who are physically or psychologically wounded (often for life), but if we want to “withdraw”/”bring people home”, let’s start with/include those in HUNDREDS of other places around the globe thought to (still?) require our continued presence, including Germany and Japan (both over 60 years!), South Korea (over 50 years), Afghanistan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Quatar, and other “Middle East” and East African countries, Cuba, Central & South America, among MANY others (like Italy and the UK!). Does anyone remember how long we were in the Philippines – or more recently in Bosnia and Kosovo? Probably not, most people don’t even remember Lebanon or Panama, let alone anywhere else. Does anyone care? Just be glad we are not (yet) fighting Iran, Syria or (our “ally”) Pakistan – or our other even better “friend” Saudi Arabia. Others to include if we start “bringing home troops” include the many POWs STILL being held from most of the places we’ve been – including the FIRST war with Iraq!
*One of the things talked about a lot regarding U.S. involvement in both Iraq and Afghanistan is how much “better” life is for women. While more people are becoming aware that wars are usually fought in order that a few investors will profit at everyone else’s espense, less well known is that historically most wars (and a lot of other conflicts between men) have actually been about women – or the resources that ensure “get” or “control” women. Ironically, both Iraq and Afghanistan (now) have a greater percentage of women in their governments than does the United States. If you want to know where future conflicts will be, look at places where there are a lot more (young) men than women available.
Why is North Korea so “hostile”/”wacko”? Most women that can move to South Korea. China is going to be “dangerous” for a lot of reasons — not the least of which will the the result of a one child per family policy in a culture that favored sons. Not only do many “only children” grow up never having (and perhaps not even knowing how) to share or think of anyone but themselves, but there are going to be a LOT of unhappy (and thus aggressive) men competing for the “few” women around. It’s obviously an “opportunity” for women from anywhere else (who like Chinese men). It also increases the likelihood of either “human trafficking” or “territorial expansion”.
In many way women make better police officers than men – especially in crime prevention and in getting greater compliance with less physical force/intimidation. Perhaps after more and more jobs get “outsourced” to India, some women might consider China as a good “beat” to “patrol”.
Although there are always exceptions, the vast majority of violent crimes and “terrorist acts” are committed by men who do not have an ongoing loving relationship with a woman in their life. Most men (including many otherwise “sociopathic” ones) tend to become much “gentler”, “caring” and “socially responsible” [i.e., “domesticated”] when they can feel loved by a woman (or have to care for a child or pet). Perhaps instead of selling weapons or forcing our political and economic system on others, all that is needed is a lot of “good matchmaking” as an international strategy/policy for peace and cooperation. It certainly was one of the original “purposes” of marriage (between families more than individuals).
Think you or someone you know might be a good match for me? Please let me know. I’d much rather be a lover than a fighter….
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