American weakness not the problem

In the wake of this current global unraveling, there’ve been questions about the lack of America leadership and whether or not it’s this supposed American weakness that’s emboldening those wreaking havoc.

It’s an absurd notion and one that, in some cases, is put forth simply to make this President look bad.  On the other hand, it’s a concept based on the presumption of the superiority of one nation over another, i.e. us versus many nations of the world.  And frankly, that’s what’s gotten us into this mess we’re in.

It could be argued that it’s American leadership-extremely poor, self-serving American leadership-that’s laid the groundwork that’s allowed these dark forces to grow.  Ten years of war in both Iraq and Afghanistan tilled the soils of unrest in the region and like an octopus spreading its tentacles, that strife took wings and scattered practically everywhere across the globe.  In fact, much of our trouble stems from the Bush Doctrine of spreading Democracy (and freedom) worldwide.

And that’s a big issue because democracy may not work everywhere in the world.  Unfortunately, it’s a lesson that we’re finding hard to grasp.

As the foundation of our country, America has an obvious love for the institution; it’s one we want to see other nations embrace.  Frankly, we think it’s the best system of government out there.   Whether or not it’s true is beside the point.  We forget that as a nation, we have a history of less than three hundred years during which time we tweaked democracy, had our falling outs with each other and just kept working at it until we got it right and all men in the US were able to live together, respecting each other.

And we’re still tweaking it.

Since the Iraq and Afghanistan war, we’ve seen a proliferation of Al Qaedaesque entities creep up almost everywhere it seems.  If they existed before the two, they’ve surely strengthened since they began and have used the two wars as rallying cries to promote their own agendas.

Yet, we’re still tweaking.

Maybe it’s time to change our strategy.  Maybe that’s what this president is attempting to do.  It’s not necessarily isolationism yet it affords us some semblance of noninvolvement, a welcome status after over a decade of hostilities.

And maybe, that’s where the true strength lies; in our ability to remain detached yet willing and strong enough to come forward and assist when asked.  Doing so even requires courage on our part; having the nerve to wait and the faith in other nations to solve their own issues.  Always butting in, affirming the lead doesn’t necessarily help nor does it endear us to the world.  It only makes us bullies and not the leaders we think we are.

It’s a tweak I think the president is trying to work on.

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How to tell when your job no longer wants you

“We Can do it!" poster commissioned by Westinghouse, by artist J. Howard Miller for the War Production Coordinating committee. Pictured Geraldine Doyle (1924-2010) at age 17.

“We Can do it!” poster commissioned by Westinghouse, by artist J. Howard Miller for the War Production Coordinating committee. Pictured Geraldine Doyle (1924-2010) at age 17.  Are the glory days of the American workplace over?

I read an interesting tidbit about the workplace recently; interesting because it painted what I thought was an accurate depiction of life on the job (a part of it, at least) rather than the usual one of “sassy loves sue and everybody loves sassy”.  I’m reminded that the job is a place where many of us will spend a good majority of our active lives.

And since we’re there so much, it would be a blessing if we could all say, with assurance, that the environment where we work is a wholesome and supportive one; one where communication flows freely and people are given ample opportunity to excel or fail, air grievances or leave, as they deem necessary and a place where their work is recognized and appreciated.

Oh well, one of the first lessons I learned in life is that blessings are cherished because they are so few.     Continue reading

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The Lady from New York Said We Could

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Emma Lazarus

When it comes to immigration, we the people have been laboring under more than one misconception.

Most recently, somewhere along the line the word has gone out across Central America that the US is soft on its policies.  One wonders where in the world anyone down there could’ve gotten such an idea.  And in case no one recognizes the sarcasm in those last words, let me be plain.  Continue reading

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To LeBron: Loyalty, more than winning, begets legacy

In opting to leave Miami, LeBron James states that he’s making a return trip home in efforts to bring a championship to the city.  He says he comes back as an older and wiser player than the one who left over five years ago.   He goes on to say that he knows it won’t be easy and that it will take some time.  But time seems to be something that he’s not giving himself or his future teammates a whole lot of.  And where legacy is concerned, time afforded, given or sacrificed, can be a very important aspect.

It seems that I’m not the only one feeling a certain way about “the Return” as Angelo Cataldi also has some harsh words for anyone praising and accepting LeBron’s going back to Cleveland on its benevolent face value.  I admit, I was all for it in the beginning but then I heard the terms of his contract and any thoughts I’d had of a happy and long-lasting reconciliation simply melted away.  Because that’s what’s ultimately needed in this case, a case of earlier heartbreak, followed by redemption and the possibility of another piece of pain in 365 days; some guaranteed longevity that his current contract doesn’t necessarily provide.

LeBron goes back to Cleveland on a two year $42.2 million contract that he can opt out of after only one year and seek free agency, again.  Even those blinded by the light in Dearborn can’t ignore the possibility of another exit, especially if the upcoming season is a disappointment.   And regardless of how strong the existing talent appears, there’s always the possibility of not reaching the playoffs, always.

In a case such as what lies in Cleveland, LeBron should seriously investigate the possibility of staying put where he is (or where he will be) if he truly is considering his future legacy.  If you look at the great players in the NBA-Jordan, Bird, Johnson or Nowitzki-most of them played for only one team.  Besides which, on the other side of the coin, LeBron doesn’t want to be lumped into the category of players who hop around from team to team in efforts to ease themselves into an NBA title.  NBA championships don’t come that easily.

A lot will ride on his tolerance for the pain of losing.  What will he do if Cleveland doesn’t contend in the upcoming season?  And if he sticks it out for the duration of his two year contract, what will he do if they fail again for the second year to go to the playoffs?  Right now, the thought held by some, myself included, is that he could walk.

Still, I hold out hope that he will bite the bullet in the case of such underachieving.  I hope he realizes that on some levels, what Pat Riley said was correct; that you have to have the courage to remain committed and never forget that you won’t always win.

There were business reasons that prompted James to accept only a two year deal.  And despite what I or anybody else says or thinks, he says that he’s committed to remain in Cleveland.  Again, I hope so.   There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that he’s destined for NBA greatness; a trip to the Hall of Fame is more than a good bet at this point, even if he fails to win another championship ring.

I’m not going to take too strong a stand in this; it is, after all, a business.  There’s more than one athlete that brings an acute acumen to their little bit of commerce.  We sometimes forget that when we see players making what are ultimately, savvy business decisions.  There remains only a certain intangible, that of character and will; i.e. the will to remain dedicated to one team in the face of a losing season.  Winning, as attractive as it is, may not be a game changer for LeBron.  More than that, loyalty to team and fan base could be the cement that adheres him to the annals of NBA history.

You Tube video, LeBron James return worth $500M: Cleveland Official, from Bloomberg News.  See more Bloomberg News videos here.

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Digitally and Portably Challenged in a Digital, Portable World

A side view of what's growing.

A side view of what’s growing. Tomatoes and peppers and containers round back.

To those of you out there listening, or reading as the case may be, I’d like to extend my apologies to you as it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me.  Even with a recent offering (June?, you call that recent?!), it still leaves me with a scattered overall contribution for the summer, and that’s not a good thing.  Truth is for the past few weeks, I’ve been busy “down on the farm”.  (Visit me at http://urbanvegetablesoldier.wordpress.com and see what I’m talking about.)
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Filed under Life and Society, Vegetable Gardening