by James Strauss


How does a huge ship navigate rough waters? It does not do so by cutting power, turning tail, and then riding the storm out. To succeed and survive that ship must sail into the wind and face the oncoming waves directly, no matter how large and powerful. That ship must increase power to both propellers, and thrust forward to take on the potentially lethal power of nature. Why would a country act any differently when faced with the broken, troubled and violent forces of hugely competitive, and terminally threatening, countries around them?

The captain on the bridge of the metaphorical ship described above does not stand before armored windows looking over the bow with a smile on his or her face. No, that captain has a serious expression on his face, and carries a serious mission on his shoulders.

The leader’s role in such situations is one of such seriousness that most humans are not capable of successfully performing the necessary tasks for very long, if at all. Today America stands at a profound, perhaps even life threatening, crossroads. Does it select, as it’s captain, a man who is well capable of standing on that described bridge, but woefully inexperienced as a seaman and possessed of a cowardly reactionary presentation and background? Or does it select a woman who’s led smaller ships through countless storms, and when she does speak always does so with intellectual and wise expression, founded upon experience gained fighting through countless storms?

The bellicose cowardly potential leader applies for the leadership role by recommending a series of outrageous and ridiculous solutions to mostly made up problems supposedly facing his described vessel. The other potential leader advises against radically changing course, and instead recommends facing into the storm (that isn’t really a storm at all) but merely some storm tossed white water and blowing spindrift. Why is the decision all passengers, whether veterans, blacks, whites, browns, gays, straights, men or women must make come November such a seemingly complex one? Because facts are not what social orders are founded upon when it comes to making definitive leadership decisions.   Emotion rules most decisions in and around any tribal social order, and since emotions are so flagrantly used, they are also flagrantly manipulated.

How is it possible for the results of past experience to benefit mankind and allow for a more comfortable, longer and more intelligent future? Understanding is the mental tool that effectively works to control, direct and moderate emotion. Understanding of what, however? Unless there is the opportunity, whether accidentally, incidentally or deliberately created to bring scientific fact (that just means checkable and verifiable) to the table for real consideration, there is not much hope of any decisions being made that are not coming primarily from the human emotional center. Following ‘gut’ instincts is following emotional response and, as so many humans have discovered, usually leads to an unproductive and often times disastrous conclusion.

The future is often metaphorically categorized as the road or path ahead. What’s down the road? Which is the best path to follow? Given that the role of selecting human leadership is such a diffusely and heavily braided one (many people deciding on the same thing together), what criterion might best guide the individual person reviewing limited choices?

History is replete with stories where leadership selections were made in response to the emotions of fear, vengeance or avarice. And although mankind has suffered tremendous losses as a consequence of making decisions on the basis of such emotions, there is no question that over the long haul of time, civilization has continued to grow and develop to an even more evolved state, both qualitatively as well as quantitatively.

Is it not time to consider the facts first; to recognize America’s preeminence over all other parts of the planet in geographic, military, economic and philosophic terms, and avoid possible emotion based losses? Could not a current selection of “steady as she goes, all ahead together” serve more as a criterion to proceed with the selection of a leader than simply as a captain’s command to an engineer operating the engines aboard a large ship?

What is known to be wrong with so many societies on earth today (lack of food; clean water; health care; education; jobs; etc.), is the same litany of afflictions suffered by humanity since the dawn of the rise of social order. Prior to the impact of such small numbers of humans controlling the message furnished by mass media (all media is owned by only seven primary corporations), the negative impact of humanity’s long suffering afflictions could not be so easily ascribed to any particular person or group. Today’s media messages are almost all bad news and that bad news, even though it is well couched and polished to seem the fault of weak cowardly leaders, is in many ways the ‘fault’, or result, of man’s lack of continued social and technological development.   Neither of today’s current candidates for president of the United States has presented plans, or even declared intentions, to make a significant dent in the problems of humankind that are evident on every portion, of every continent, on earth. There is, however, the very real possibility (given that the one thing a president of the United States is entrusted with is the ability to almost instantaneously launch nuclear weapons at anyone or place) that man can now, indeed, bomb themselves back into the stone age, or worse.

Sometimes, when things don’t seem to be going in the best direction, it is wisest to continue down the path of least risk. Avoiding a low and constant crashing sound in the distance, while traveling down the river of life, might be more prudent than precipitously proceeding out into deeper waters before discovering what that sound is, until it is revealed as a harmless coastal outcropping, or a monstrous waterfall. To follow that metaphor further, almost everyone living within the scope of America’s powers and control, is moving along a safe path. Steady as she goes, all ahead together.
~ James Strauss

Photo credit:JUNEAU, Alaska – . U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally.

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