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Have a good day

“I don’t like him.”

“Who this time?”

“Obama”

“I thought you didn’t like Bush.”

“Didn’t like him either.”

“Okay, why don’t you like Obama?”

“He can’t work with people; doesn’t listen to people; wants to do everything his way. Besides, he’s a racist.”

“Wait one! Black people can’t be racist, according to them.”

“How come he called the Cambridge Police Department stupid for arresting that Gates fella? He didn’t have the whole story when he said it, and just because he might know Gates, doesn’t mean the cop did. Cop was just doing his job. Seems to me that every time there’s an incident about race, Obama’s there damn near as fast as Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, and they’re two of the most bigoted people in the world.”

“You mean to tell me you don’t think there is racism?”

“Now who’s being the damned fool? Of course there’s racism. In most of the country it concerns blacks and whites, and both are guilty. Along America’s southern border, it’s racism against and by Mexicans; same’s true in California…and there, it’s racism against Chinese. Man, there is racism across this country, and I don’t care who says there isn’t because he or she just joined the damned fools club.”

“What you’re saying is that we can’t get along at all?”

“I’m not saying that all of it’s overt. Look at that black family – where the hell was that – but that family that got the note telling them that they should move somewhere else because “their kind” wasn’t welcome? Not even the balls to sign the note. Look at the number of black people working for Obama; that isn’t favoritism? Some kind of ‘ism’ has been in America since the Pilgrims hit the rock, and it’s not going away any time soon. Now, we’ve through Muslims into the mix and we get something I call ‘religionism.”

“So how do we cure this ‘ism’ problem?”

“We don’t; we can’t; there is no cure. We preach tolerance and practice intolerance. We say ‘love thy neighbor’ and then we put up six foot stockade fences around our yards.  Scott was right when he wrote, ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive.’ Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think there’s a person alive today who could do the job of President of the United States.  Fella by the name of John Dickerson – he’s the one gonna do Face the Nation when Bob Schieffer retires – well, anyway, he wrote a piece a few years ago about the skills our President ought to have. Here’s what he said: ‘Campaigns give us a good idea of a candidate’s priorities, but can they read the political landscape they’ll face when they get to office? Are they honest enough to win voters’ trust but ruthless enough cut a deal with their enemies when necessary? Are they comfortable with the schmoozing, backslapping, and ego-massaging that comes with the job?

‘Is the candidate focused enough to follow an overarching vision, but nimble enough to tweak that vision when real-world events intervene? Can they admit mistakes and learn from them? Can they sift through complex ideas? Can they recognize baloney when it comes from their staff or supporters? Do they know how to hire a good team?

Do they know how to deliver a good speech? Do they know when to stay quiet? Do they know how to read public opinion? Is it possible for a president to short circuit Congress by taking an issue directly to the people?

Has the candidate ever faced a true crisis? Do they have the equanimity to handle the erratic and unpredictable pressures of the office? How are they with uncertainty?’

“He raises some good questions, but he left out a couple of things. One of those is…can the candidate be bought. The amount of money that’s being spent on political campaigns these days is ridiculous and should, somehow, be stopped. The other question I’d raise is…can the candidate stand the public scrutiny that the media will give. Seems to me that if a candidate ever chewed gum in public or spit on a sidewalk, that will be reported as a travesty. Hell, look back at some of the Presidents we’ve had over the time America’s been in existence: Grant would have been thought of as a full-blown alcoholic; Lincoln would have been married to a drug addict; Harding was another drunk and fooled around just as much as Jefferson, Kennedy, or Clinton. There has probably never been one President who didn’t have flaws of some kind or other. Time was when we forgave those flaws. Seems like today, unless the President of the USA walks on water, he – or she, if that ever happens – won’t get elected. Hell, I didn’t like Bush because he started an unnecessary war; Clinton couldn’t keep his pecker in his pants; George the first was involved in that damned Iran/Contra thing and that pissed me off; and, as far as I’m concerned, Reagan did nothing but spend money we didn’t have and slept through half his own Cabinet meetings. I don’t know who’s gonna win in 2016, but I hope the poor bastard’s got skin thicker ‘n an armadillo!”

“Un…and, er…you too…have a good day.”

 

(This has been around in various forms for years and years. Most have read some version of it. It’s reprinted here more as a reminder than anything else. If you enjoy it, feel free to copy and add to it, delete from it, or modify it in any way you see fit. Seems to me it’s just something of which we all need to be reminded now and then.)

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who had been with us for many years. No one knows for certain how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

      • Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
      • Why the early bird gets the worm;
      • Life isn’t always fair;
      • Maybe it was my fault;
      • Walking on dark streets alone after midnight isn’t wise;
      • “Your mom told me to pick you up from school” is no reason to get in a car with a stranger; and,
      • Loving someone for what they are, not who they are, is a good thing.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn or, “The Jones’s are in debt”) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition. Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.
Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement. Common Sense was preceded in death,

  • His parents, Truth and Trust;
  • His wife, Discretion’
  • His daughter, Responsibility; and,
  • His son, Reason.

He is also survived by his 5 stepbrothers;

  • I Know My Rights;
  • I Want It Now;
  • Someone Else Is To Blame;
  • I’m A Victim; and,
  • Pay Me For Doing Nothing.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

 

It is one of my greatest fears and firmest beliefs that those who express a desire to govern, yea, will seek the support, financial and otherwise, of those with deeply hidden agendas should never, under any circumstances, be allowed to run for public office. While their professed intentions, at the most basic level, may be honorable, their after-election-actions will, without question, be found offensive or even reprehensible by a simple majority over whom they hold sway. Even less honorable will be the interference of those who supported the candidate and who now demand a return on their investment, or in the words of many a mystery writer, “payback’s a bitch!”

“…some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time,” are not merely words on a tablet uttered by the great emancipator; they are a tone set by President Lincoln, understood by the few and misinterpreted consistently by the many. Let me give you a couple of examples: When the World Trade Center act of war took place on September 11th, 2001, and it was learned that the assassins were Saudi Arabians, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon, then President George W. Bush elected to declare war on Iraq. Why? An excellent question. There had to be a reason and that reason had to be sold to the American people in order that the country of origin for these attacks be punished. As a result, some brilliant strategist came up with the idea of selling to the American public that Iraq was a threat to America because it had weapons of mass destruction (wmd) that were a direct threat to our way of life. I’m not certain that anyone ever asked questions about delivery systems for these weapons, but what the hell, can’t have everything. Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of State and now Secretary of State – also one of the most popular military men in the country – Colin Powell, was sent to the United Nations to show a group of photographs that purported to be storage facilities for weapons of mass destruction. These detailed photographs, along with charts, maps, and graphs brilliantly designed and drawn, were meant to scare the living daylights out of the world in general and Americans in particular. As a consequence, American went to war with Iraq; found no weapons of mass destruction; did find the head of the country, Saddam Hussein, hung the man, and replaced him with a democratic form of government which today has fallen completely apart and is now on the verge of being absorbed by a new bunch of crazies. But, and here’s the kicker, the majority of Americans supported this war on a country that had nothing to do with the attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, or on a failed attempt to crash into some other structure in Washington – I’m still not certain we know whether it was to be the building housing Congress or the White House.  Did President Bush want something like this thrust upon him shortly after taking office? I rather doubt it. Did he take the right decision by going to war with Iraq? While that’s for history to judge, my reaction is, “No;” he was bullied into it by those who didn’t want to rock the boat with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or the United Arab Emirates. Who were the bullies? Well, say hello to big oil and the international banking community, arms manufacturers, along with the Koch Brothers, and say goodbye to the idea that our young sons and daughters will be killed in unnecessary armed conflict.

Enter the new kid on the block. He’s not only young, he’s idealistic…and he’s Black. What do his advisors tell him? “You’ve got to help the poor and impoverished.” Who are the majority of the poor and impoverished? Why, the inner city minorities. His advisors, along with a little push from the pharmacy and insurance lobbies suggest a universal health care bill. Sure, it will help everybody – wink, wink – but it will really help the impoverished…and…everyone will applaud because you’ll be the first U.S. President in seven tries who will get a national health care system in place…wowie! The bill, poorly written and without implementation strategy, gets pushed through Congress. After all, we don’t want to offend a first-term president, particularly when he has a majority in the Senate. What happens? The next seven plus years are gridlock as Congress, realizing the stupidity of the health care plan as it’s written, attempts to destroy it. The intentions were good, but the advisors were looking more to line their own pockets with lobbyists dollars than they were in writing a universal health care plan that would be good for all of the people all of the time.

These are just two examples of two good men with the best of intentions being duped and overridden by those around them. Yes, it’s true; we should always hire people who are smarter than we are. They make us look good, and we get things accomplished. In the case of governance, however, I think the first requisite is not intelligence but common sense, and as Voltaire so accurately stated, “Common sense isn’t all that common.”

Has America ever had a leader who has not, in some way, been fooled or preyed upon by his advisors? Probably not, although, Teddy Roosevelt may come about as close as any to fitting that category. The microscope under which all candidates are placed today makes it darn near impossible to a really good leader to be elected. All one has to do is look at the current crop o candidates – on both sides – and one begins to realize the terror that awaits us following the election of 2016. Where is that man or woman who doesn’t want to run but who will be our national savior? Oh, how I wish I could answer that question, for without some kind of answer, we will once again be sending our young men and women off to get killed in foolish wars in which we should have no interest, and we will once again relegate the poor and the minorities to fend for themselves when it comes to health care.  Yes, it’s a pessimistic view but I fear it’s also rather realistic.

 

 

How many BFFs do you have? I’m serious here now. How many people do you know who you could realistically call a best friend forever? I ask that question for a very simple reason: I hear a lot of talk about this one and that one being a best friend to this one or that one, and I have to tell ya, I feel like I’m missing the boat somewhere. I really don’t have a best friend, and I’m feelin’ sorta left out. “What about Juli?” you ask. That’s an interesting point. Juli is probably as close as I’ll ever come, but Juli has her own life to live. Sure, part of it includes me, but part of it is her own personal, private self. Would she be there for me if the baloney went into the Westinghouse? Yeah, I’m guessing she would be; Lord knows she’s been with me on numerous trips to the hospital and maybe that’s what best friends are supposed to do. But let’s hold that for later discussion

Another question that I raise about BFF’s is if you call someone your best friend forever, does that mean that you’re such a self-centered narcissist that you need have someone at your beck and call? Is that the definition of a BFF, and if you consider them to be your best friend, are you theirs? Would you be there for them at all times, whenever they called? Is it, perhaps, that we have friends on whom we know we can call and we are one on whom some of them can call…whenever.

The reality is that the second ‘F’ is fallacious. Forever is one long, long time. Perhaps we have become valley-doll-ized, or Kardashianized or Jerseygirlized or whateverized to the point where we feel the need for someone to be thought of as a BFF. If that’s the case, maybe we’d better check our own self-esteem. If we need to be “ized,” our own self-worth should be questioned. The closest thing I came to in high school as far as a BFF was concerned was probably Tommy “Po-Po” Roberts. He was smarter and a better football player than I was. I was a better basketball player. We lost touch after we both went off to college, and he died before I got a chance to say, “Goodbye.” Hell, at my age, you’re saying goodbye to someone with whom you went to high school on a pretty regular basis. I really can’t say that any of the girls I dated in high school or college would be put in the best friend category…sorta like, “nice but no cigar!”

Which brings us to the question, “What qualities are required in order for a person of the same or opposite gender to be classified as a best friend?” The answer for me, really, was quite simple. They were the qualities I found in my late wife. Long before we became lovers, became married, became a family; long before we discovered the little things that irritated the daylights out of us but were far outweighed by those that delighted us, we were friends. She had strengths to match my weaknesses and vice versa. We liked the same books, the same movies…well, for the most part, and the same television programs. Yes, we could finish each other’s sentences. Did we fight or argue? Yes, absolutely, but we never went to bed mad.

Okay, so that applies to the person you eventually marry. What about a person of the same sex who is your best friend? Well, first and foremost, how many “best” friends can one person have? Good, better, best, what do those words mean? C’mon, let’s get practical here. The man who lives across the street has been a friend whenever I’ve need him; his wife and kids the same. Do we call them good, better, or best friends? The rabbi who lives next door has been a wise and wonderful counselor to me at times, hearing many things that I wouldn’t necessarily tell the guy across the street…or his wife…or his children. So where does the rabbi fit on this scale. Throw into the mix the fact that I’m not Jewish and you have a conundrum to beat all.

Truth to tell, I have neighbor good friends, gym good friends, Walmart good friends, and police good friends, but BFF’s…I wouldn’t say so. My companion, my caretaker, my lover, my friend, is as close a friend as I will have until I die. She’s been a teacher, a mentor – yes, a mentor…even for this old fart – and a dear, dear friend. We get on each other’s nerves at times, but we also kiss a lot, laugh a lot, and she’s even gotten me to try and [to some degree] enjoy jalapeno peppers. She’s smarter than I and far more talented…about which I’m rather jealous envious.

I guess that in summary, I believe young people have a tendency to toss that BFF around rather lightly and without knowing exactly what it means. So, in the vernacular of the young, “OMG, WTF, OTFLMAO, and Shut the Front Door.” I think I’ll just honor friendships and forget attempting to categorize them any further than that.

So I get this e-mail that asks the only thing that is ever on my mind, “Are you suffering from facial wrinkles and sagging skin?” Hot damn, I’m 80 friggin’ years old and you have the audacity to ask me a question like that. If I’m that age and I don’t have those problems, I wouldn’t be able to move my mouth to answer because my plastic surgeon’s work would be completely undone when my face split open. What, are you crazy? These people show you pictures, one of an old woman with a frown, wrinkles, and hardly any hair. They say, “She is 70, but now…” and they show you the after picture with her hair slightly tinted and looking marvelous, and a not so subtle airbrush job, with the lady smiling, and they add, “…she looks 40.”

She’s 70 and she looks 40; so what? Who cares? What’s your point? Are we looking for a massive ego boost here? You are what you are. Face facts; you’re freaking old. It’s not how you look; it’s how you feel. There are days when I feel 80; others when I feel 50. However, if I tried to do at 80 what I used to do at 50, (a) I’d probably have a heart attack and die; (b) if I didn’t die, the doctors might from laughter; (c) every muscle in my body would ache for months, and (d) I’d finally realize just how old I really am and would wind up a quivering mass of tears in a straight jacket somewhere. No, this is just not acceptable.

A man I know just died of a massive heart attack. He was 69 years old. A fine physical specimen of a human being; looked to be the picture of health; took a long walk every day; had a marvelous outlook on life…he died. He didn’t reach 70; he died. “So what?” you ask.  “So what,” is forgetting about trying to be something that you’re not. If you want to be a 70 or 80 year old beauty queen, that’s your business, but frankly I’m more interested in what’s inside your head and your heart than I am about how you look. If you’re a man and you want to look the way Jack La Lane did when he died at 92, great; more power to you, but I’d be more impressed if you could intelligently discuss the latest book that you had read or how you see the crises facing the United States in the next ten years…of course, if you’re 92, maybe you aren’t too worried about the crises facing the United States in the next ten years; five maybe, but not ten!

Our hangup with external beauty is probably what’s wrong with a great many Americans. We are so concerned with the exterior that we forget to look at what’s inside. Whether it’s the physical beauty of the person, the exterior bells and whistles of an automobile, or the phony promises of politicians, we don’t take the time to search for what’s below the surface. Then we wonder why the physical beauty turns out to be a bastard or a bitch-on-wheels. We go ballistic when the automobile that we thought was so perfect suffers a recall because its this, that, or the other thing will cause it to be a potential death trap. And as far as the politicians are concerned, there is one rule that one should always, always follow…Anyone who wants to run for political office should never be allowed to do so, no matter what they say or promise. This holds true generally at the state or national level. Someone wants to run for school committee or town council…well, maybe not so much…but keep an eye on them.

Would I like not to have a gut or flabby boobs or still be able to run up and down a basketball court? Sure, of course I would. Would I like to still wear a 42 long suit jacket and have a 32 inch waist? Who wouldn’t, but I’m also very much aware that I’m one of those who suffers from furniture disease. That’s when one’s chest sinks into one’s drawers. I’ve had enough surgeries on my knees and back that instead of being six, three as I was in high school, I’m now just over six feet tall. My metabolism has slowed sufficiently that I now weigh a hundred pounds more than I did when I wore that cap and gown to receive my diploma…and that was for my undergraduate degree.

We cannot prevent the ravages of time. If we’re fortunate enough to have the time to ‘suffer’ them, we should consider ourselves very, very fortunate. There are many people who didn’t get that luxury for one reason or another. Forget the facial wrinkles and the sagging skin. Be proud that you’re still walking around and that you wear both as badges of honor. Do you love? Have you compassion? Can you see…perhaps with a bit of help from your bifocals? Do you hear…eh, maybe not as well as you’d like, but what the hell. Can you walk down the hall or across the street or through the grocery store? Can you smell the flowers of spring? If you are possessed of these blessings, you’re ahead of the game.

Forget trying to be what you were. Welcome what you are and what you will be.

Talk about coming full circle…the North fought the South for the freedom of the slaves. Here it is, only three Centuries later, and the Whites are fighting the Blacks for control of the streets everywhere. Are we headed for another Civil War within the “Colonies?” If that is the case, on whose side will the Hispanics fight? How about the Russians, Vietnamese, Chinese, and others under the boot of this abominable regime…and what the hell are we fighting for anyway?

In all seriousness, it would appear that we are headed for a race war within our own borders. Had this been back in the 18th Century, the death of Crispus Attiucks as the first Black casualty of the Revolution would have had members of the Black community rioting in the streets and holding up signs saying, “Black lives matter.” Of course, the Red Coats and even citizens would have shot them and used the signs for kindling, but what the hell. Some fool is now being called a racist because he held up a sign saying, “White lives matter.” What the hell is wrong with these people? Don’t they understand that all lives and no lives matter? If I legally carry a gun and you try to take it away from me and I shoot you, your life didn’t matter…you were trying to take something that wasn’t yours. However, if I see you walking down the street, minding your own business, and I take out that gun and shoot you, not only does your life matter, but for my money, my life no longer matters because I killed you for no reason whatsoever. I may be licensed to carry that gun; I may even be a sworn peace officer but that doesn’t give me the right to shoot you just because your skin happens to be a different color, or your head is shaved and you’re wearing an orange robe. Maybe your face is covered with weird tattoos, but it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is I killed you without reason, and I should be arrested and judged by the rules of the land as established by the community, state, and nation.

“You can’t possibly understand because you’re not Black,” someone said to me recently. “You’ve never been pulled over just because of the color of your skin. You’ve never been followed around in a grocery store by a manager to see what you’re trying to steal. You’ve never been followed by a cop when you’re walking down the street.” Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa; wait a minute? Do you honestly believe that every person of color – every person of color – gets pulled over because their skin is Black? Do you really believe that every Black person in the grocery store is being followed to see what they are going to steal? And you’re telling me that every Black person you know has been followed down the street by a policeman? Is that what you’re saying? First and foremost, you don’t know “every” Black person; that’s number one. Number two is, “Why would a grocery store manager or employee be following a Black person around? Is there a history there, perhaps of shoplifting in the neighborhood by people of color? As for the cop walking the beat, sure, he could be following; he could also just be walking a beat. “I seem to detect a bit of paranoia,” I noted. “That’s what I mean, you’re not Black so you don’t understand,” was the comeback. Okay, I’m not Black, but if I’m minding my own business…as I’m driving…as I’m shopping…as I’m walking down the street, why should I worry?

Is there such a thing as racial profiling? Of course, there is. Is it as bad as the majority of Black people believe it to be? Of course it’s not. Remember, when Crispus Attucks was killed; was the very first casualty of the Revolutionary War, there was no such thing as radio; there was no such thing as television; there was no FOX news or Nancy Grace or Scott Pelley or Anderson Cooper. Today, we have all of those things and all of those people. And don’t you go kidding yourself…media and reporters move this country left and right as they see fit. If we are to have any kind of war within our own country, it will be triggered by some television report that is slanted in such a manner as to cause the first shots to be fired.

Every day, in big cities and small towns; in Boston and its suburbs, New York City and upstate Plattsburgh, in San Francisco and San Jose, and in Des Moines and Dubuque, Iowa, thousands of people of every color imaginable work together closely to solve problems, to complete tasks, to produce goods, and most of them don’t even think about themselves as anything other than good people doing good things. Every day this takes place. Every day people get together and work and have cookouts and shop and they really don’t give a damn…until they’re bothered.

We have a great many problems in the United States of America. We don’t need to add any more. If some police departments have gotten too big for their britches and wielding out-of-control power, let’s cut them off at the knees. If a Black neighborhood is filled with White cops or if the reverse is true, then city or town government has placed their collective heads where the sun don’t shine, and they better wake up. As far as the media is concerned, stop the glorification of gore and start looking at the big picture that we call the United States.  Begin looking ahead 10, 20, 50 years from now and start asking what the problems will be and how will we solve them? Forget that the average viewer has a seventh grade education. Rather than dumbing down the news, let’s raise the I.Q. of the watcher. Rather than showing videos that glamorize violence toward women, racial inequality and drug use, refuse to run the garbage; who knows, maybe music will become something pleasant once more.

This might be called a ‘rant,’ and I suppose it is. However, I’m tired of hearing about Black protests. I’m tired of the type of news that appears to be on all stations. Yes, I have the remote and I do change the channels, but I’ve caught up with Game of Thrones, Blacklist, NCIS, and Masterpiece Theatre. I’ve even read the latest books by my favorite authors…my good heavens, what is a body to do? Oh, that’s right; I can go plant a garden so that all of the people at the gym will have tomatoes, summer squash, and jalapeno peppers…by the way…that’s all of the people!

Why is it so difficult to think of the world 200 years from now? Hell, you, your children, and your great-great-grandchildren will all be dead. Therefore, why should we even care? Why recycle, for example; why worry about the rain forest, species extinction, overfishing, or global warming or any of that stuff? After all, we’re just going to be a pile of dust by that time. Screw the future; there are already enough people who don’t give a damn about it anyway, so why should we care? But…we do recycle; we do attempt to do our bit to keep the earth as pure and pristine as our little efforts can do so. For some strange reason, whether it’s perpetuation of our species or what, we attempt to prevent the world from destroying itself through some combined effort.

When I say “we,” I don’t necessarily mean the United States of America. Shucks, we’re way down the list when it comes to ecological friendliness, or as I like to put it, “Preserving the planet for Cap’n Kirk and his Enterprise buddies in the 25rd Century.”  According to one article that I read, “You’d think with all of the smarts and resources this country has, it would rank a bit better than Number 2–afraid not. Although it did rank a respectable 211 for natural habitat conversion–that honor is pretty much negated by the country’s abysmal ratings in other areas. Ringing in at 1st place for fertilizer use, this country’s excessive application of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (NPK) fertilizers can result in the leaching of these chemicals into water bodies and remove, alter or destroy natural habitats. The USA also ranks in 1st place for CO2 emissions, 2nd place for water pollution, 3rd place for marine captures, and 9th place for threatened species.” Sometimes, our braggadocio isn’t so warranted after all.

I suppose that by the time the big blue marble becomes inhospitable to human life, somebody, somewhere will have discovered a place where all human life can be transported. It may even be a possibility that those people, with the species of animals they wish to take with them, will also have found a way of keeping the new planet somewhat cleaner than the manner in which we’ve treated this one…but I rather doubt it. You see, I don’t think that man, as a species, evolves as rapidly as we’d all like to believe he does. We may have banned DDT, creosote, and a few other dangerous things, but as it says up above, we surely have a long way to go. To digress for just a moment, I should tell you that I am now wearing the plastic bottles that only a few months or years ago I was drinking from. That is, I now have sweat pants that are made from recycled plastic bottles…and they’re great!

When I look at all of these ‘studies,’ reports,’ ‘analyses,’ etcetera, about countries and even cities that are good or bad in terms of this statistic or that, I find that the criteria, rather than clarifying the situation, only serve to confuse it.  Smaller countries, on the whole, seem to do much better than larger ones. Russia, China, and the United States have such vast areas as to make some judgments more harshly than they necessarily have to be. As another aside, my son was credentialed to attend the Olympics in Beijing but opted to stay back at Olympic headquarters in Colorado Springs. “I’d been there once,” he told me, “and I wasn’t certain my lungs would every clear up!”

Who are the clean, green, ecologically-conscious countries throughout the world? Yes, you’re right; the Scandinavian countries lead the way. Why is impossible to say, but they were the first ones that came to my mind, and they, along with Germany, Costa Rica and Spain round out the top ten.  These are countries that make a genuine effort to lower their carbon footprint and work at maintaining a partnership with the planet’s resources.

It puzzles me that our commuting problems in the United States are as bad as they appear to be. Some time ago we were caught in the rush hour between Hartford, Connecticut as far south as the New Jersey Turnpike. Between the amount of traffic and the word that was going on to expand the highways, it was rather obvious that by the time the new, widened highways are complete, the traffic will have expanded to keep pace and to keep the traffic jams just as they are today. A mathematician might say that the highway system is expanding arithmetically while the number of vehicles attempting to use those highways is expanding exponentially. The thing is that I’m not certain newer and wider highways are the answer. However, as long as the automotive industry controls Congress, along with a few other industrial giants, we will continue to view automobiles as our major source of transportation.

I’m fully aware that there are people from other parts of the country who believe that those of us who live in New England are as soft as a newly-minted cow flap, and to some extent that might just be true. However, I see industrial park after industrial park with ‘For Lease’ signs on better than half of the buildings, and it leads me to wonder why some companies insist on keeping their businesses in downtown Boston. This is the age of technology. You can be connected to anyone, anywhere in the world in less time than it takes to snap your fingers. Parking in cities such as Boston is a hassle that no one wants or needs. These industrial parks have tons of parking. Why do some of these huge operations insist that the ‘city’ is the only place to be? Years ago, a friend of mine had a consulting business in the heart of New York City. One day, he announced to his staff of 10 or 12 that he was moving his operation to Keene, New Hampshire. He had been commuting from Greenwich, Connecticut into the City, and had enough. How many people did he lose to this move? One…one person could not make the transition, not because she thought it was too “country-bumpkin-esh, but because of her spouses commitments in NYC. He has long since retired, but the business is still in Keene.

We ask that those who lead our businesses have vision. Perhaps part of that vision should include where the company can most efficiently be located. At least here, in the Northeast, visionary leaders should be looking at the suburbs with their unused and probably one hell of a lot cheaper-per-square—foot rental rates as places for their employees. The buildings are already there, in anticipation of a boom that never seemed to take place. Let’s use the space we have and stop destroying more of our land. Who knows, some employees might begin cycling to work or begin to feel better about their commute. After that, more companies might begin recycling programs. Lord only knows what innovative and planet-saving things may happen after that.

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