What Samantha Power Taught Me

Reading time – 3:53; Viewing time – 5:47  .  .  .

Act I
Lights come up to reveal an office desk and computer, papers scattered randomly on the desk and odd things hung on the wall. A man is hunched over a keyboard and is frowning. He turns to the camera, as to a circle of mopey looking people.
(Me) Hi. I’m Jack. And I’m a snarker.
(You) Hi, Jack.
(Me) I’ve written snarky essays about the president. I’ve said snarky things about him to friends. When I see his face I lose my common sense and I become Snark, the Mocker of Worlds.  I admit that I am helpless against my snarkiness and right here, right now I give myself up to a higher power.
(You) Show me.
End of Act I.


That higher power is Samantha Power, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Can you imagine what doing that job must be like? It’s dealing full time with people from all the countries in the world, all jockeying for position to serve their own nation’s best interests in a zero-sum game. It’s dealing with lying and deceit, gamesmanship and back-stabbing and more. And if you are to serve there, you better have a thick skin, as you and your country will be called more nasty names than you ever knew existed.

Ambassador Power did battle with Russia’s best, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who died suddenly on February 20, and over the years they locked horns repeatedly in vicious battles over life and death issues. And in the end, Ambassador Power called Ambassador Churkin her friend. You must read her honoring piece from February 26 here. It gives clear insight into their world, a view that you likely have not seen before. And Ambassador Power has given us a gift that she may not have intended, but which has lasting value if we will allow for it.

Snark springs from my fingers into the keyboard almost on its own. It’s so easy to seize upon the amazing, fatuously false things the president says with such easy conviction. I mean, millions of people saw the rain that was falling and landing on his black overcoat on inauguration day, as he told us the sun was shining and he insists to this day that there was no rain. How could we not grab that and run with it directly to the snark tank? Or with the millions who really weren’t on the mall that day? Or with the murder rate that really is not the worst in 47 years? Or with the imaginary busloads of undocumented people who he said were bused to New Hampshire to vote against him? He’s a snarker’s bottomless resource.

But wait a second. I’ve declared in these essays that if things are to get better, if we are to depolarize our country and come together for a better America, something will have to change. We can’t all sit in our own echo chambers with our certainties that “those idiots” –  and you know who “they” are – are stupid or arrogant or self-focused or are stingy or don’t care about others or want you to pay for others’ laziness, or a thousand other things. The reason we can’t all sit in our own echo chambers listening to ourselves demonizing others is because once the echo fades away, every one of us is left sitting alone in our chamber and we haven’t come together at all and haven’t made a single thing better. That’s why something has to change. Ambassador Samantha Power has shown us the way in the final words of her honoring of Ambassador Churkin. She wrote:

If we are to get our countries’ relationship back on track – an indispensable foundation for tackling global threats – it will not be because Americans cave on our principles. It will be because we stand firm, while also never losing sight of the humanity of those with whom we fervently disagree.

Now re-read that, substituting “fellow citizens'” for “countries'” and “our national challenges” for “global threats.”

Let me make that easy for you:

If we are to get our relationship with our fellow citizens back on track – an indispensable foundation for tackling our national challenges – it will not be because Americans cave on our principles. It will be because we stand firm, while also never losing sight of the humanity of those with whom we fervently disagree.

It is our core national requirement. We must stop shouting past each other and begin to treat one another with empathy and respect as we stand up for our principles. The snark aimed at one another has to go.


Act II
The desk is still a mess, but the man at the keyboard is no longer frowning. He seems to be a bit more relaxed as he turns to the camera, as to a roomful of mopey looking people.
(Me) Maybe I could give it a try to understand the people who support this president. I mean, I still don’t and won’t like what I see him attempting to do and I don’t like most of his cabinet picks and advisors, who seem to represent an America unlike what I believe in. But maybe I can listen to others and try to understand and cut out the snark about them. Not so much for this president, because he really is a fraud and a liar.
(You) This Snark 12-Step program doesn’t seem to be working for you.
Lights fade to black.
End of Act II


THIS JUST IN  .  .  .

You absolutely have to read the first article in Jim Warren’s daily summary from Pointer. See what University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone has to say about Trump’s libeling of President Obama. Be sure to click through to the full Chicago Sun-Times article.


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.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

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2 Responses to What Samantha Power Taught Me
  1. Sharon Sanders Reply

    Jack, why don’t you have a directly link to Facebook, or am I missing something?