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Monday, December 19, 2011

Today's Quote:    
"Everything that happens to me in life, good or bad, has ME as the source. If I am not realizing the outcomes I want, then something is wrong with me and/or my approach and I must identify and correct the problem(s)." -- Eric Silver

We the People: It's Up to You
Originally Published January 23, 2009
Barack Obama Has Already Accomplished What He Most Needed To Do:   Unite the majority of Americans, across lines that traditionally divided them, towards the fulfillment of a common purpose. Now the citizenry, "We the People," must refine that purpose into a clear blueprint, distill it into achievable goals, and commit to their fulfillment. Goal Number One should be a congratulatory examination of what "We the People" have matured into.

America's Maturation: Race and the Obama Presidency
President Obama raised the bar for all Americans and his victory quashes the notion that race is a lock, or a key, to success. Because humans excel at inventing reasons to discriminate against or hate each other, prejudice will exist forever. If not focused on one's appearance, it will center on something else. Fortunately, stupidity and unfairness are easily outsmarted, and outmaneuvered, so nothing can stop an individual's progress except the individual himself.

President Obama's success will inspire and motivate individual black Americans, but not validate them. Another person's victory cannot be consigned to oneself, and taking personal credit for the successes of your ethnic group is fraudulent, unless you also take personal credit for your group's failures (and assume responsibility for correcting them).

The Civil Rights Act gave black Americans full legal rights as citizens in 1964. The "It's Up to You Now" memo, explaining that economic self-empowerment is the only way to enforce and protect those rights, was, unfortunately, never distributed. As a result, black Americans did not fully engage the clutch of advancement, despite the engine of progress running at full speed, a limitless fuel supply, and a wide-open road of opportunity. Instead, the weight and inertia of the legacies of discrimination and slavery caused them to figuratively sit in neutral:

"I see the accelerator and the shifter, and could use the steering wheel to circumvent obstacles, but if I do that someone or something will probably just stop me so I'll play it safe and stay here, or follow other people who look like they might know where they are going, or perhaps wait for someone to come and drive for me."

That sort of thing.

To accelerate forward as a nation, ideas of reparation, and feelings of white guilt, must be abandoned partly because they impede progress, but mostly because notions of victim and victimizer, oppressor and oppressed, are irrelevant.   In historically turbulent, sometimes abusive relationships, each party requires understanding and support in order to righteously resolve their issues, because each is a co-conspirator in creating, and perpetuating, those issues.

The struggles, pain, and mistakes of previous generations were theirs. They become ours only to learn from and build upon, not to emotionally resurrect and relive. Depending on how intelligently we undertake them, our actions today will be praised, or condemned, by those who follow us. In the end, logic and common sense always prevail, so the smart thing for us to do is rely on them to arrive at our desired destination much quicker, and much happier.

An easy exercise is to project ahead to the time when mutual respect prevails on this planet. Visualize, and feel, how you perceive yourself and others; how you behave towards them, and they towards you. Recall how foolish and hateful people of the past (our present) were, and reflect on the root causes of their attitudes and behaviors. Capture that image and bring it back, perceiving and behaving now exactly as you did in the future.

Current realities will not change, but your reactions to them will, because you will experience them in detached hindsight with less emotion, greater understanding, and genuine compassion. You'll be surprised at how effectively this works, if you make an earnest effort. As a bonus, you'll become better equipped to prosper in our broken economy.

The Economy: Greed and Stupidity
The orderly collapse of the American economy is underway, no one knows when it will end, what pattern the rubble will assume, how much will be salvageable, and how much will become manure that fertilizes new ventures.

President Obama was polite in his inauguration speech when he said greed, and a failure to make hard choices, were the causes of our economic woes. Investment banks and other financial interests looted the country via their bailout. The average American, equally caught up in the frenzy of quick profits and/or equity in an insanely overvalued real estate market, helped them do it.

The Obama administration's planned investment in infrastructure development and Green energy production is essential, beneficial, and makes sense. Injecting more capital into banks to pay for toxic assets, or bailing out homeowners who knowingly bought overpriced property, does not.

The root problem is simple: Investment capital, like a river, needs a place to flow and accumulate; otherwise it evaporates. When the Dot-Com bubble burst, capital flowed into real estate. After real estate, it flowed into commodities, however, that bucket was not big enough to hold it. Now the money has nowhere else to go, and is evaporating through depreciating prices and equity.

Persons who see opportunity, not tragedy, and adapt to it, will benefit tremendously. The dinosaurs of the "old" economy are dying and new types of business entities will feed on their corpses, and still-living bodies, as they ascend to replace them.

The most successful of these entities will think and function collectively through a "hive" mind and structure, as opposed to traditional, individualistic hierarchies. The common good of the country, and planet, will be core elements of their missions and mandates, and they will form new "rivers" of investment capital that are bubble-proof because of safeguards inherent to their structures. As no individual can prevail against a collective, they will be formidable global competitors.

The current economic crisis hopefully will also cause Americans to examine the value of their lifestyles, since this is what the majority have to look forward to:

Go to work, eat, go shopping, eat, watch American Idol, eat, get married, eat, be unhappy in marriage, eat, get drunk, eat, have kids, eat, buy a dog, eat, send kids to college, eat, save for retirement, eat, die without spending all retirement money. Kids repeat cycle.

How many Americans reach for, and achieve, the lofty aspirations they proclaim as a birthright? How many fail because of needless barriers erected against them? How many recognize that their shopping-centric lifestyle reduces them to little more than walking credit scores? How many feel it is justifiable to kill people around the world to protect freedoms squandered on a mundane existence?

Unflattering, but also how the world, and many of ourselves, perceives us. Restoring America's global stature will require more focus on transforming our values, priorities, and ourselves than on mending diplomatic fences.

America's Global Standing: Reinventing an Image
Advancing your interests sometimes requires you to set them aside, particularly when the needs of other people outweigh your own. Hopefully that will be one of the tenets of Hillary Clinton's "Smart Power," as Secretary of State.

Apologizing for the boorishness of the Bush administration will not be enough. America took a giant dump on the rest of the world and that mess must be cleaned up diplomatically, and through a new paradigm of foreign relations that integrates the American private sector into the development of a true global community.

Building infrastructures, advancing technologies, and improving standards of living in less-developed countries (without first bombing them into oblivion) is a sure way to earn both friends and profit. A private sector version of the Peace Corps with similar goals, but more innovative and efficient implementation, would be an excellent conduit for the equitable exchange of knowledge and resources between this country and others, to balance, and optimize, living standards for all.

Eric Silver, Publisher

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