Friday, October 1, 2010

the right tool for the job

I often guide my way through life’s journeys and detours by referring to axioms. The dictum which reminds us that the first step to getting out of a big hole requires us to stop digging is an old favorite of mine. And perhaps this message needs to be run 24/7 on a Times Square billboard.

America has been toiling in a massive hole for a couple of years now, since being declared healthy enough for removal from life support (meaning no more bailouts). We muddle by with mind boggling government debt, extensive unemployment, an aging infrastructure, an overextended military, tremendously high foreclosure rates, upside down home ownership (owing more than a house is worth), huge personal and business debts, and a frivolous denial about global warming in the real sense as well as in the creating some jobs sense.

Are people angry? Of course they are. Are there times and places for anger? Of course there are. The tricky thing though about the emotion of anger is how it can work well within a healthy personal relationship at times, and yet can wreak havoc within business or public relationships. Within a strong personal relationship, anger sometimes sounds the alarm that problems need to be addressed. And if they are, the relationship can grow and become even better. However, in a business, group or public setting, anger often transcends being an emotion. Interest in mending or improving the relationship can quickly take a back seat to the gathering of allies, winning of the battles and later to losing the war.

I fear that this is the current state in much of American politics and culture today. Carl Paladino, running for governor of New York State as a Republican this fall, perhaps exemplifies the angry man of today most aptly. He holds himself together as he declares himself to be ‘mad as hell’ in a video clip on the paladinoforthepeople web site. I get the angry Tea Party coziness of his statement. I wonder though if he gets the Freudian slip side of being one who is ‘mad as hell’ as in crazy, nutty and irrational. As in someone who would send a letter to Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic choice, running for governor in the Empire State, in which, on September 20th, Paladino made several remarks about Mr. Cuomo and his lack of ‘cojones’. Or someone would refer to former NYS Governor George Pataki as a ‘degenerate idiot’. Or someone who thinks a well thought out idea is to 'take a baseball bat to Albany'. Or someone who would attempt to make an analogy that connects Sheldon Silver, the NY Assembly speaker, with Hitler and an Antichrist. Or boil over into some kind of implied threat when taunting, ‘I’ll take you out buddy’ ,while arguing with a New York Post editor in a hotel lobby near Lake George. And certainly he would not connect being ‘mad as hell’ with the extreme divergence of judgment required between wanting to lead a State of 19 million people and forwarding racist, vulgar and immature e-mails without thought, in what he has labeled ‘poor judgment’, as has been reported in the media. Notwithstanding the madness, this trendy position of showing anger without discussing solutions to the individual, public, current and future problems only serves to divide our energy and will likely keep us mired in our hole right up to the midterm elections in November and beyond.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, President Obama (the unruffled man) and his administration have disappointed many by the lack of tangible projects and solutions brought forth to get the country back on track following the disastrous Bush era. I am not so sure that Andrew Cuomo can get the job done with any less disappointment here in New York.

But when I enter the voting booth on November 2nd, I will pull a lever that I believe provides a chance for focus, strategy, equality, progress, growth and maturity. Snowballing anger, void of sincerity, usually just begets more anger and little gets solved. No matter what party I look to I want to vote for someone with ideas and principles that make good sense, not good punch lines.

It is currently very hard to for me to see any individuals who meet those criteria because the shovels are still largely in hand and tons and tons of bulls@#$ are still being tossed around in the emptiness. Forget the baseball bat; negotiating our way out of this stink hole may require each of us to be packing a can of Lysol.

© 2010 Christopher’s Views


  1. I do wish I could give an argument for the good things that are happening, but since there aren't any worth mentioning, I can only agree with you, Christopher! Forgive me, my mood is a mite black this evening! I do hope you have a good weekend -- as a matter of fact, I hope I have a good weekend!!


  2. People who only speak in anger are usually covering up a lack of workable solutions. I don't want to hear how mad you are, I want to hear how you plan to solve the problem. Oh, wait, that would require that you actually know what the problem is. Your righteous indignation only shows me you haven't a clue and you are just trying to distract me from that fact.

  3. Well put, Chris. Paladino typifies the increasingly knee jerk, black and white simplistic thinking that passes for public discourse. Without cogent argument and analysis, emotion fuels "debate."

  4. "anger sometimes sounds the alarm that problems need to be addressed. And if they are, the relationship can grow and become even better. However, in a business, group or public setting, anger often transcends being an emotion. Interest in mending or improving the relationship can quickly take a back seat to the gathering of allies, winning of the battles and later to losing the war."

    I'd vote for YOU anytime! Very well expressed, Christopher.

    Aloha from Honolulu

    Comfort Spiral

  5. Gosh, good timely post Christopher, I really enjoyed it.

    When I enter the voting booth in November, I will use one hand to mark the ballot and one hand to hold my nose.

    My husband would always comment that no party should hold the majority. I used to look at him funny when he said that. Now I do see the wisdom, it's just so sad.

    I am from the great city of Chicago, and we have plenty of nitwits of our own running for office,...

    I always believe that the people(us) are not as stupid as government thinks.
    So I do have faith.

    Have a good weekend my friend.

  6. Interesting take on politics in the US. It's never easy clearing up someone else's mess.

  7. I hope you get it right, I hope all of you get it right, because what you decide today has an enormous influence on what happens to the rest of the world tomorrow.

  8. Christopher, sometimes it feels as if we are actually in some version of The Truman Show, unaware that we are actually used as parody. Do you remember when the Texas representative apologized to BP and Tony Hayward for the "shakedown" and thereby made it incredibly clear that he was actually a corporation's mouthpiece more than anything? It was so obvious that mere hours later he walked the comment backward.

    It's those kind of instances where it begins to take on the feeling of surrealist film festival.

    The Democrats have proven largely ineffectual with the Super Majority and everyone is exhausted by watching the political dog try to catch its own tail but the Tea Party is not the answer, as you know. Frightened, angry people whipped into a frenzy, never considering that they travel across public roads, sent emails out on how to use public transportation, all so they could gather on the steps of tax-maintained monument to scream about the evils of taxes.

    I'm an unaffiliated voter, but I'm a liberal and a progressive (dude, we've made a word with the root of "progress" somehow evil). Maybe we'll yet get through this, but our problems run far beyond deficits and party affiliations. Our political process is so bogged down and ineffectual at present.

    However, our only hope is to continue trying and hope we prevail.

    We're a country formed on ideas, and historically that has a shelf-life, one we have lived far beyond. I hope we continue to. I'm not suggesting we're on the verge of dissolution but we'd do well to take a better look at world history, and note the many super powers that saw their day and then declined.

    The United Kingdom. "The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire!" until it really did. Or as one pundit put it, "They lost an empire and have yet to find a role."

    I hope that reason prevails, it's our best chance.

  9. Thank you for this and for highlighting how anger has started to masquerade as "passion"--thereby getting people "fired up." It's a false kind of fire.