Get with it. Globalization is good for you. Well, most of the time.Continue Reading...
I recently completed a vacation trip to California from Illinois, by car: Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada—and returning through Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Minnesota. Open spaces, not many people, an amazing number of wind farms —a very different experience from what you see east of the Mississippi.
It’s been awhile since I’ve seen this country up close. There’s just so much land, ready and waiting to be populated. And things look clean and neat and prosperous…at least from the interstates. I imagined America one or two hundred years from now with our West transformed by a new economy and the movement of many millions of people out of the crowded East and into the land of the big sky and roaming buffalo.
But for now, it’s not that hard to see why this part of the country is mostly Red on certain maps. Out there, the land invites you to dream about having the space to grow into your potential, your own way—you and your family, or tribe, independent of big government, big money, big data, creating and living out your destiny expecting liberty and personal freedom to stake out your claim, build your homestead, and keep it safe and secure for generations. Oh, give me a home, where the introverts roam.
How different the open country and small-town America is from the big cities, or even the suburbs of the big cities, where life is dominated by the interdependence of things. We are completely dependent on governing authorities, institutions, and businesses for safety, order, employment, income, opportunity, education, growth, entertainment, and fulfillment. We crave being settled in, with our basic necessities provided for, or at least with somewhere nearby to find anything we need or want. The dream of personal liberty is still alive, for most of us, but is tempered by the recognition that we find ourselves in the greatest country with the most prosperity in the world, wrapped in the cloak of semi-invisibility, which is not a bad thing.
But immigrants and Silicon Valley billionaire wannabes keep the dream alive. If you’re still new to the USA, you have come to live the dream and may have learned that as gold-lined as the streets may be, you have to excavate and sweat and persist to get your share. If you are new to a sense of personal wealth, that is, you reside in imaginary Silicon Valley, you can touch and taste being rich and that keeps you going toward personal freedom nirvana where money gets you in at the golden gate.
Anyway, when you travel out west, you feel the independence dream again, and it becomes easier to see why big skyers and small towners vote for the party of Jefferson, the brilliant gentleman, intellectual, slaver farmer. If it weren’t for the electoral college system, these folks wouldn’t stand a chance to be felt in presidential elections.
I loved our trip out West, to frontierland. All Americans should get out of the cities once now and again to see how healthy and friendly communities can be, not that it hasn’t taken generations of community-builders to make the great ones great. But community-building opportunity beckons, once again, out west, young people.
I expect excruciating suspense from a Hitchcock movie, not so much from the presidential primaries. When will Trump followers finally say, “OK, we’ve had our fun. We didn’t think it would get out of hand like this. We didn’t mean it. We’re sorry.”
But isn’t this really something? I’ve been following David Brooks and a few other observers closely, and they’re clearly embarrassed, although they have nothing to be embarrassed about. No one, apparently, considered that America’s anger over a do-nothing Congress would translate to the Trump phenomenon. I’m still sure we’ll get it right in the end, do we look silly now. But fear not, for like a bad burrito, this too, shall pass.
The trouble with getting old, if you’re not careful, is coming to believe that you’ve got it all figured out. By the time you get old, the temptation to figure it out has been with you a long time. Once you start believing that you’ve got it all figured out, it feels like a relief…and a reward for all that trying to figure it out.
But you can’t ever figure it out, and you really don’t want to start thinking you can, much less should. Figuring it out takes the mystery and suspense out of living. And the adventure of trying to figure it out. It seems that suicides are people who come to believe they’ve got it all figured out.
A lot of my old friends act as though they’ve got it figured out — their kids, politics, business, the Cubs, relationships, faith, art, the Middle East, economics, the Internet. Sometimes I think I do, too.
But it’s so tempting. There are all these deep and puzzling conundrums that have kept you thinking and worrying for so many years, decades really. It surely must be possible in my “three score and ten” to get something figured out. Doesn’t that seem reasonable?
When I was an angst-ridden college student in the sixties, I thought, “What if I know everything? What if I get it all figured out and it’s all bad? Won’t life be unbearable? Won’t the only option at that point be to end it all? I’m thankful that from somewhere, I got the good sense to realize that there will always be something more to learn. And interesting stuff, too. As long as I could reasonably expect to live, nature and humanity would always be able to provide some new field of thought, area of study, and puzzle to ponder. Whew! I suppose this seems obvious, but you know it’s hard to see new possibilities when you think you’ve got it all figured out.
The GuyCicero.com tagline is personal reflections on politics, society and culture…. What better time to get political in what is shaping up to be a presidential campaign year destined to be among the great ones? Ought to make some use of that poli sci degree.
My track record at predicting who will make a good president is not impressive. As a thirteen-year-old, I was distraught at JFK’s election in 1960. This was the end of life as we knew it, but in a good way, as it turned out, despite the ultimate tragedy of it.
In 1980, I thought, “The country has drunk too much of its own Kool-Aid and elected an actor as president. What can they be thinking?” This was the only year between 1968, when I voted for the wrong guy, and 2008 when I did not vote Republican. My man was John Anderson (This was Hollywood versus the Midwest, in my view.). Of course, as we know now, Reagan made the right economic moves for the times … and was awful good on TV.
This year the only thing for sure is that I won’t vote Republican for the third election in a row, unless someone with an emotional age above 21 is nominated. Then, I probably still wouldn’t vote for them because of my utter disappointment in what it seems to mean to be a Republican these days.
Now, I understand that it’s been a slow news day for the past couple of years. Not. But why is so much time being devoted to coverage of the gang of 17, or however many Republican contenders there are? Well (as the Great Communicator was wont to say), we know the answer to that. Ratings.
Sorry for digressing, but as you see, there is just so much to be put out about this year. The sorry state of American presidential politics. The news media. And so much more. Guy will be busy.
Several years ago, a rich Texan named Robert Edsel got interested and then got really interested in the story of the actual “Monuments Men” from World War II. His research and persistent efforts and cash resulted in a book, a PBS documentary, and now the movie and all the attendant publicity for a story we’d never heard before about Americans at war.
If there ever was a great example of why individual freedom must be the ultimate political and social goal for civilization, this is it on a couple of levels. First is the story of the original monuments men, and second is the story of how one person brought their heroics back to life. We should all be inspired and moved to action to help preserve personal freedom wherever we find it under attack.
I’m a lifelong fan of free enterprise. People should have all the freedom they need to try, fail and succeed at their own businesses. If they break the laws of God or man in doing so, they ought be regulated, prosecuted, and otherwise called to account. But they ought to have the chance.
When people are extremely successful in business, they tend to accumulate lots of cash, especially when they sell off their companies. It’s what they do with all that cash that’s the important thing. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Larry Ellison…these are the well-known stories.
Robert Edsel sold his oil business and moved to Italy, where his passion for the Monuments Men story began. You can read about it at MonumentsMen.com. (This isn’t Sony’s site about the movie.) Good for him, and us.
The advent of joy.
The best of intentions.
The rush to get ready.
The brightness of light.
The satisfaction of knowing.
The quiet of night.
The celebration of family.
The silence of contentment.
The starkness of reality.
The triumph of peace.
So cool, so nostalgic.
Harvest and harvest moons,
Up in the sky.
The long decline begins with a spiritual ascendancy.
So much to do before the end,
But we may as well go out harvesting joy,
Wherever we find it.
And lift up ourselves up before
The re-birth and new beginnings.
Having reached the age of 68, I seem more and more compelled to think on the past. Mostly, in my time, I have felt like Little Big Man (a book by Thomas Berger and movie with Dustin Hoffman), a witness to great history, but a very minor player. In telling my stories now, and the stories of others related to my stories, there may be meaning for readers in casting new light on events and trends and people that they knew, too. I hope so, but in any case, I am needy of getting them out of my brain and heart, even if they go no farther. If you feel like this, too, please do the same, for self-therapy if for nothing else.
Flash: Folk music star says, “I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm…no more.” Some clapped; some boo’ed; Pete Seeger fumed, but got over it. The rest of us took notice and tried to understand.
It’s embarrassing now to admit that I didn’t really get it. I’d been hanging on every word, exquisite line, image and metaphor in Dylan’s evolving folk music song book since ’62. I’d been to one concert, in Chicago, that was all blue jeans and acoustic: Don’t Think Twice, Masters of War, Only a Pawn in Their Game. While all the other folksters, who I loved, too, were singing about failed love stories that probably never even happened back in 18th century England, or mythologized criminals from another time and place, Dylan had re-written the American folk genre with his own personal stories and his own takes on current, actual events we’d seen on TV. Not that he was the only one, but only the most creative and prolific one, by many a mile.
Now, enough was enough, apparently. He wasn’t gonna work for Maggie, or her brother, or her pa, whoever they were. Jeez, now what?