leadership

An Open Letter To . . .

Reading time – 32 seconds  .  .  .

.  .  .  our lip-flapping, self-serving senators and representatives

Caution: Contains snark. Sensitive readers should man up.

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Let me say with all due respect and appropriate decorum that:

– Pretending that continuing to refuse to have relations with Cuba enhances American security is idiotic.

– Treating Cuba differently than we treat any other repressive regime has completely failed to influence Cuba to change any of its policies and hoping otherwise is folly. Get over it.

– Refusing to have diplomatic relations with any country (i.e. refusing to be in dialogue) ensures that nothing good will happen.

– Limiting Cuban cigar imports to what is smuggled into America and believing that will pummel the Castros into submission is brainless.

– Treating Cuba as though it is still a Soviet satellite state suggests you’ve had complete amnesia for the past 25 years.

– Continuing a policy that has so obviously and consistently failed will not cause things to get better. (Note to legislators: Slapping your forehead and exclaiming “Duh!” right now is appropriate.)

– Having a hissy fit over at last having a dialogue with Raul Castro is grandstanding, self-serving politics that abdicates your responsibilities to the American people.

Special note for Sen. Marco Rubio (R. – Moon): Your pretty face doesn’t imply any mental ability or even common sense. Grow up. Learn something before it’s too late.

End of open letter.

Action Alert to readers: When you hear anyone in Congress telling you that the sky is falling now that President Obama has had the courage to do what generations of presidents before him should have done, change the channel, turn the page or click the “Off” button immediately. Then pass this message along to those you love and respect as an act of compassion, because nobody should have to listen to that drivel.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Super Glue for Broken Justice

Reading time – 52 seconds  .  .  .

I haven’t a clue what percentage of our police officers nationwide are solid citizens whose intent matches what is written on the sides of their cruisers: “To Serve and Protect.” My guess is that the number is very high. For simplicity, let’s call them good cops.

There are other cops who are racist, hateful bullies. I don’t know how many of those we have, but they have a big footprint in poor and minority neighborhoods and they do a lot of harm relative to their numbers. Let’s call them bad cops.

Cops are free to think and feel whatever they want, just like the rest of us, and if some have a bad attitude toward those they are supposed to protect, they get to have that and, really, we can’t legislate away racism or hatred anyway. On the other hand, we can legislate behavior. The trick is to do it so that we actually affect behavior so that cops are fair to all. Sadly, that just isn’t happening now.

Cops – even the bad ones – are necessary partners with prosecutors because they depend upon one another for prosecutions of accused perps. One implication of that dependance is that the prosecutors don’t want to get on the wrong side of the cops, not even the bad ones, because they need the cops’ cooperation in future cases. That just might lead to lax prosecution of cops accused of wrongdoing. Indeed, do you suppose that had something to do with the wimpy prosecutions presented to the grand juries in the Michael Brown and the Eric Garner cases?

If we’re to stop bad cops from harming our people, if we are to limit their behavior to what is acceptable, we must ensure that they are held accountable for their wrongdoing just as you and I would be. For that to happen, prosecutors need to be free to fire their big guns at bad cops. And for that to happen, we must remove cases against cops from the local prosecutors who depend upon those cops. How we go about that is a worthy dialogue. At the end of that discussion, though, we have to arrive at a system where prosecutions aren’t tainted by conflict of interest and cops receive the same justice all the rest of us should receive.

Once the bad cop perps are locked up they can hate as much as they like. They can hold their racist attitudes and want to bully others, although once in prison outcomes of bullying may vary from confrontations with unarmed kids. The good news is that then the rest of us will be free from their hate and their bullying.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Mojo

Reading time – 51 seconds  .  .  .

This week President Obama declared an executive action that redirects our immigration people so that about 40% of our undocumented residents need no longer fear deportation. Families get to stay together. American children will no longer have to fear that they will come home from school to find that mom and dad are gone forever. Some of these people might even stop being exploited by nefarious employers.

The President telegraphed the importance of this issue starting when he was a state senator in Illinois. For years he has been telling Republicans in Congress that they must take action on immigration reform or that he will. He’s stated that promise repeatedly for over 500 days, ever since the Senate passed an immigration bill and sent it to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Obstruction) for consideration in the House. Boehner is still sitting on that bill, refusing to bring it to the floor of the House for a vote. And can you believe that guy – the President? He went and did what he said he would do. He signed an executive order reforming the parts of our broken immigration system on which he has the authority to take action.

And the Republicans had a brain inversion for 24 hours, claiming his action did everything from grant amnesty to criminals to infecting everyone in America with both Ebola and Benghazi fever. (That’s a Republican-crafted disease invented by Darryl Issa (R-Meanie) which causes complete issue amnesia, such that everything has to be investigated forever.) And within 24 hours the Republicans shut up, because President Obama has the high ground on immigration and the Republicans look like jerks. They set themselves up in the clown suit suspended over the tank of water and the President obliged them by pitching a perfect strike into the triggering mechanism.

This is what leadership looks like. It is about taking a stand on the right side of the tough issues. It is about doing what can be done and setting aside whining because things are hard or can’t be made to be perfect.

This is President Obama’s last rodeo. He’s off the bucking bronco in just over two years. Do you want to see him go out in a blaze of legacy-creating, lasting glory? Encourage him to continue to lead boldly. Let him know that you respect him most when he answers the call of his own mojo. That is what you hired him to do.

For more on the frequency of presidential executive orders, have a look at this chart. Hint: No president has issued fewer executive orders than President Obama since Grover Cleveland in the late 1800s.

For a discussion on whether President Obama’s executive order on immigration is legal, read this short article.

Thanks to SDA for the references.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Math

Reading time – 41seconds . . .

About 1/3 of registered voters cast ballots in the last election. That’s about as good as it gets in a non-presidential year. Let’s see what that means to you and me and all Americans.

Since most elections are decided by just a few percentage points, that means that just over half of the ballots cast were for the winner, so approximately 18% of all registered voters determined the victors. Yes, that’s right: Just 18% of all registered voters decided for the rest of us, registered or not, who will hold power. And the story gets crazier.

People over the age of 50 vote in higher percentages than any other age group. More specifically, whites over 50 show up. And while there are considerably more white women than white men, the men show up in higher numbers. People who are members of minority groups vote in a low percentages and poor people don’t show up at all.

So, what the math says is that a small bunch of old white guys decided who will be in charge in Washington and in our state capitols. Is that okay with you? Do you know any poor or minority people? If so, ask them if that math is okay with them. Because old white guys are getting what they want, but the rest of us aren’t.

And lest you think that’s as bad as it gets, think again. The big money bad kids broadcast lies, false innuendo and blatantly misleading propaganda and they do it incessantly – like Rush Limbaugh proclaiming that President Obama violates the Constitution or that he is going to come and take away your guns or that he was born in Kenya. Like Ted Cruz (R-Mars) talking about President Obama’s “lawlessness.” Like Saint Ronald Reagan railing against “welfare queens” in Chicago (there weren’t and there aren’t any – he just made that up). Of course, they aren’t the only slimers doing the sliming. The Koch brothers, the NRA, the American Petroleum Institute, the RNC and so many more do the same things, lying in order to get what they want. As bad as that is, this gets even worse.

These reality distorters keep beating their “gimme more” drum until the vitriol and falsehoods are familiar to the people who show up at the polls. It’s the Big Lie and ordinary (i.e., non-super rich) Americans fall for it and vote against their own interests.

Well, at least 18% of Americans – old white guys – do. And the rest of us just let that happen.

So, vote on November 1, 2016. Vote in 2018, 2020 and in every election. And bring at least two people to the poles with you. Work in a call center to get out the vote. Go door-to-door in your neighborhood just urging people to vote. Put door hanger reminders on their doors regardless of whether they’re home. If we don’t do our part and our friends and neighbors fail America, it’s partly on our shoulders.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Edmund Burke, Irish orator, philosopher, & politician (1729 – 1797)

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

You Know This, But Still . . .

Reading time -41 seconds  .  .  .

Thomas Jefferson told us that,

An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight.”

That means that we must educate the next generation so they can do their job. It means that we must stay informed about what is going on so we can do our job. It means that it is our job to “exercise oversight,” to monitor and enforce accountability. Now is the right time to do that. Of course, “now” is always the right time for accountability, but my reference here is about this week.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014  is election day. If you have not already voted, show up on Tuesday. Polls are open roughly 6:00AM – 7:00PM in most states. It is time to hold accountable those who have or would represent us and govern us. And because our politics is so broken, because big money influence is so pervasive and corrosive, our job right now is to elect those who would reform our crazy system. Many have already committed to reform.

Vote for the reformers. Here’s a link to find some.

If no candidate in a race where you vote has already declared that s/he is committed to reform, vote for the person most likely to be a reformer.

Vote for the reformers.

Nothing ls likely to get appreciably better until we get election reform. Your part is to send off to Washington and your state capitol the folks who will make that happen. Then hold them accountable.

Did I mention something about voting on Tuesday? Here’s a caution: DO NOT go to the polls alone. Bring your neighbor who needs a ride or who hasn’t been actively interested. Pick up your crazy brother-in-law on the way. Make sure your significant other does the same thing.

A while back you either took a civics class or citizenship was taught in another class. You had to pass a Constitution test in order to graduate, so I know that you know that it is both your right and your duty to vote. Do it this Tuesday.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Mass Resignation

Reading time – 57 seconds  .  .  . 

Three more high school children are dead and three more are in critical condition because a handgun was easy to obtain and was the preferred method of dispute resolution for yet another hurt/angry American.

In the first year following the murders of 20 little kids and 7 teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, over 12,000* Americans were killed by guns.  There have been 87 school shootings since then. That number does not include things like random drive by shootings on the south side of Chicago. It solely considers kids bringing heat to school and shooting fellow students. Kids making dead kids – lots of dead kids – and hoards of emotionally scarred souls dealing with that horror as a lifelong legacy.

Of course, there are also crimes of passion, as spouses settle their grievances with whatever might be handy, like the Glock in the closet. Youngsters play with daddy’s toy and one puts a bullet through the head of his brother. And so many distraught people end their pain fast, all because guns are easy to get, even by people who should never have a firearm.

Had enough of the madness? According to Mark Glaze of CNN, “74% of NRA members and 87% of non-NRA gun owners believe all gun buyers should get a criminal background check.” Glaze wrote further, “A CBS/New York Times poll released on January 17 found 93% of those living in households with gun owners and 85% in households with NRA members support background checks.” Both NRA members and other American gun owners have seen enough dead kids and have had enough of the madness.

So, how come the NRA opposes universal background checks? It’s because the organization doesn’t represent gun owners. The NRA is the lobbying arm of the gun manufacturers. Those folks don’t want universal background checks because that might mean that they would sell slightly fewer guns. That’s more important to them than the lives of our kids.

So, when there was to be a vote in Congress for universal background checks, the NRA spent millions of its dollars threatening and cajoling legislators desperate for campaign cash, demanding them to reject universal background checks. The result is that the big money gun manufacturers got what they wanted, but you didn’t.

Getting the big money out of our politics is the real solution to that, but it’s going to take a while for you and I to bring that about. For now, the best thing is for NRA members to renounce their membership en masse.

Are you an NRA member? Quit the organization that has never represented you. Turn your back on the organization that turns its back on your kids. Stop giving your money to people who don’t care that six more kids just got shot, two of them are dead and that one of them could have been your 14 year old daughter.

Now, pass this blog along to the gun owners you know.

* This is a rough number based on gun deaths reported by media. The generally accepted total is over 30,000 Americans dead from guns per year. Every year.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Our Greatest Hockey Game

IMG_2344Reading time – 59 seconds  .  .  .

The story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team is well known, both because of the 2004 movie Miracle and because if you were alive on February 22, 1980 you remember what happened, where you were and who was with you. It was one of those defining moments, like Pearl Harbor, the space shuttle Challenger disaster and 9/11. This, though, wasn’t a tragedy. And it wasn’t about a hockey game.

Coming into the Olympics the Soviet team had won 27 of its last 28 games. They had beaten the U.S. Olympic hockey team in an exhibition game just 3 days before the Olympics began by the bone crushing score of 10 – 3. They were simply the best.

And then the Olympics began in Lake Placid, NY and a bunch of American kids beat the greatest hockey team the world had ever seen. The pandemonium, euphoria and tears went on and on and even now those who remember find tears in their eyes and a lump in their throats just remembering.

That most unlikely of sporting event outcomes happened at a time that was particularly dark for Americans. Fifty-two of our countrymen were being held hostage in Iran. The Soviets had invaded Afghanistan and we were powerless to do anything about it. And we were doing an automotive conga line into gas stations to purchase 5 gallons when we could get it at all. We were a dispirited people.

And so it is today. We are feeling dispirited, distrusting and we are doubting ourselves. Our mistakes are gnawing at us and self-serving cynics with big egos and even bigger mouths are firing poison darts into our hearts every day. So many of us have simply dropped out in order to stop the pain and are hunkered down, now just going through the motions to sustain ourselves. How in the world will we get this train wreck back on track?

Wayne Coffey in his book The Boys of Winter offers his clarity about what those days in February, 1980 were really about. He writes,

“You watched them play and you were struck by the power of a simple, single thought: Hey, we really can still do it. In a time of malaise, they brought spunk and spirit.”

“It was to believe again in the nation’s capacity for greatness.”

”  .  .  .  you  came away feeling that greatness wasn’t a realm strictly for the superhuman, remote and unattainable, but rather something much closer, real and reachable, something within every one of us.”

Herb Brooks, the head coach of that team, has died and the team members have gone on with their lives, so they won’t come to rescue us from our funk. But, truly, we don’t need an Olympic hockey game because our ”  .  .  . capacity for greatness  .  .  .  is real and reachable, something within every one of us.”

The dream – the miracle – is alive if you say it is. Our greatest hockey game is still ahead of us.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Crazy

Reading time – 67 seconds  .  .  . 

I’m nearly through Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs and have a noggin full of takeaways. Jobs was a mercurial fellow, obsessive about detail and adamant in his views to the point that compromise was virtually impossible for him. A more than substantial driver of that was his ability to envision a different world. “Think Different” was, in fact, the Apple slogan after Jobs returned to run the company in 1997. That, of course, is what Apple did and what it encouraged others to do. Think Different.

That didn’t and it doesn’t mean to think differently. It means to think and see that things can be different, that there are possibilities just awaiting your invention, your particular genius. it means that things don’t have to be as they are and that it is possible to create something that is not just evolutionarily better, but revolutionarily better. That kind of thing doesn’t happen if we are apathetic or give just enough of ourselves to get by. It requires our passion, our mindfulness and, more than anything, our belief that Different is possible.

Jobs recorded his own eulogy and it was from a promotional piece in 1997. As you read it, imagine that this might apply to you.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. They  push the human race forward.

“While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

I’m crazy enough to believe that I can change the world. One blog at a time. One presentation of Money, Politics & Democracy: You Aren’t Getting What You Want at a time. One conversation at a time. One vote at a time. One meeting at a time. One idea at a time. One spark at a time. One declaration that, “We won’t have it any more!” at a time. One look into my grand-children’s future at a time.

Are you that crazy? Are you nutty enough to believe and to see that things can be better, that we don’t have to “respect the status quo,” that we can shake the stuffing out of it and unmask it for the fraud that it is and make the quantum leap to the Different that is so much better and is just waiting for us?

The place to start is to believe.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Backlash Quiz

Reading time – 127 seconds  .  .  .

Mohammed Mosaddegh was the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran. In 1953 he was deposed in a coup d’état orchestrated by British MI6 and the American CIA, along with foreign oil firms. They established Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi as the absolute ruler of Iran. That was a handy thing for the Brits and the Americans, as it ensured an uninterrupted supply of cheap Iranian oil. On the other hand, the Iranian people did not like that very much.

The Shah turned out to be a brutal dictator. Not surprisingly, his people did not care for that either, and in 1979 he was shoved out of the country as part of the Iranian Revolution. To express their displeasure with America for forcing this monster on them, the Iranian Guard took 52 people from the American embassy and held them hostage for 444 days. Today the Iranians are making atomic bombs. Funny how pissing people off has a way of producing backlash.

The west and most notably the United States has maintained an enormous footprint in the Middle-East for over one hundred years. For example, we have provided the assurance of control of Saudi Arabia by the House of Saud. That has kept American oil interests firmly established and has ensured – guess what? – an uninterrupted supply of cheap Saudi oil, often to the detriment of the local population. Come to think of it, Osama bin Laden was a Saudi. Hmmm. Funny how pissing people off has a way of producing backlash.

In addition, over those decades the cultural imprint of the U.S. has been both enormous and anathema to the locals. Again not surprisingly, the locals haven’t liked that and that, in part, led to al Qaeda. Those people want their section of the world to themselves and have devised a strategy to get it back. Here is a part of their strategy:

  1. Provoke the United States and the West into invading a Muslim country by staging a massive attack or string of attacks on US soil that results in massive civilian casualties.
  2. Incite local resistance to occupying forces.
  3. Expand the conflict to neighboring countries, and engage the US and its allies in a long war of attrition.
  4. Convert al-Qaeda into an ideology and set of operating principles that can be loosely franchised in other countries without requiring direct command and control, and via these franchises incite attacks against the US and countries allied with the US until they withdraw from the conflict, as happened with the 2004 Madrid train bombings, but which did not have the same effect with the July 7, 2005 London bombings.
  5. The US economy will finally collapse by the year 2020 under the strain of multiple engagements in numerous places, making the worldwide economic system which is dependent on the U.S. also collapse leading to global political instability, which in turn leads to a global jihad led by al-Qaeda and a Wahhabi Caliphate will then be installed across the world following the collapse of the U.S. and the rest of the Western world countries.

Funny how pissing people off has a way of producing backlash.

Which brings us to ISIS/ISIL. They are barbaric. They rape, torture and kill indiscriminately. They have beheaded two Americans and a Brit and we want revenge, our pound of flesh. While that may be a normal human reaction, think about the consequences of killing more Muslims. Those still living would not like that and, well, it’s funny how pissing people off has a way of producing backlash.

This post touches on just a few examples of predictable retribution for our long history in the Middle-East and of course there are more. The point is that when we do things that produce impoverishment, suffering and death for others, those remaining want to hit back, just like we want to hit back at ISIS/ISIL right now. If we do that, if we allow ourselves to be sucked into that rope-a-dope, we will be playing right into the strategy outlined by al Qaeda and ensuring the next atrocity that will be visited upon Americans.

If you always do what you’ve always done,

you’ll always get what you always got.

I understand muscular chest-thumping and I appreciate the desire for simple solutions to complex problems. But, really, we’ve seen this movie and we know how it never ends.

Pop Quiz

  1. Are we dumb enough to set ourselves up like that again?
  2. Exactly who will benefit if we stay at war in the Middle-East? Hint: Follow the money.
  3. Bonus question: The Soviet Union collapsed in large measure because they had to keep up with U.S. militarily expenditures and at the same time they bogged themselves down in a long term war in Afghanistan. In the process, they spent themselves into economic collapse. Is there anything in that for us to learn? If so, what is it?

You get 10 points for each correct answer and a perfect score gets you entered to win an all expense paid trip to the next Ground Zero.

Insert your answers below.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Confession

Reading time – 111 seconds  .  .  .  

I wasn’t a 60s radical. I wasn’t even politically conscious. In fact, I was essentially out to lunch regarding social and political issues. I missed the marches, the sit-ins, the banners, the demands for change, the chanting in front of the White House. Even Woodstock passed me by. “Clueless” was pretty much my M. O.

That produced unintended consequences, as choices always do. One of them was related to the Viet Nam War in ways that I could not have predicted.

President Lyndon Johnson had raised the deployment of American troops to that country to over half a million by the time I was a senior in college, with my 2S draft deferment on really short, shaky legs. I came home on winter break from college to have a most serious talk with my father. He was a WW II veteran and a hater of war, with a rock solid sense of responsibility of service to America. I inherited that sense of service from him and I knew I had a duty to serve, especially at a time of war, a time of national need.

On the other hand, that war was an abomination from the start. It was, in fact, being fought by the North Vietnamese first against the French and then against American troops by people trying to liberate their country from outside aggressors. That is to say, they wanted to be free and we were on the wrong side of that David and Goliath story, and my sense of morality and justice would not let me participate.

That produced a tug-of-war between duty to serve and duty to morality and it is what brought me to that discussion with my father. For the first time in my life I did not know right from wrong, so I asked him what was the right thing for me to do. In my mind’s eye I can still see him walking up to me and putting his hand on my shoulder and saying, “You’ll have to figure that out for yourself.”

That wasn’t the answer I wanted, yet it surely was the right answer and I thank him to this day for the wisdom he offered me with his words and for giving me the space and the imperative to grow up.

I did not serve due to a medical technicality, but the avoidance of service left a hollow place in me that should have been filled by service to America. That has stayed with me for decades and it is the unintended consequence of my choices.

Things have changed and I’ve grown up just a little more and have found a way to serve my country. It is through these blogs and the discussions they spawn. It is through my presentations of Money, Politics & Democracy: You Aren’t Getting What You Want* to groups around the country. Its purpose is to educate and motivate Americans to action in order to change what is happening, as big money and corporations having he same rights as people continue to muscle our country away from us.

Perhaps you remember the scene in Star Wars where Obi Wan and Luke are talking and a hologram of Princes Leia pops out of R2D2. She implores Obi Wan to help her home planet of Alderaan and she finishes by saying, “Help us, Obi Wan. You’re our only hope.”

Obi Wan then says to Luke, “We must go to Alderaan.” Luke protests, listing his reasons and excuses to avoid going, to which Obi Wan replies, “But, Luke, she needs our help.” That was all the reason Obi Wan needed.

America needs our help right how. She has enormous problems that grow greater each day and the dream of Madison and Jefferson, Lincoln and King and the millions of refugees from other countries – your ancestors – is in peril.

Perhaps you were and have been politically active. Perhaps you were disengaged, as I was. Regardless, the imperative of service remains and its call is in the air right now.

You are Obi Wan and America is Princess Leia: Help us Obi Wan. You’re our only hope.

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* Invite me to present to your group. I promise an hour and fifteen minutes that will educate, entertain and, if all goes well, motivate people to service. Besides, the program is a freebie. That’s my service to country, my give-back, my pay-it-forward to a country that has been so very good to me. Please help me to serve, Obi Wan.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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