Resilient Communities are the Foundations of a Resilient America.

Five Easy Pieces | December 18, 2018

Every once in a while I like to share some quick thoughts with you – nothing in-depth, just something to chew on beside holiday meals.

One.  George H. W. Bush was frequently denigrated as a speaker.  But in his “Thousand Points of Light” speech he perhaps uniquely spoke to the fundamental resilience embedded in the American experience.

From the individual to the family to the community, and then on out to the town, to the church and the school and, still echoing out, to the county, the state and the nation—each doing only what it does well and no more. And I believe that power must always be kept close to the individual, close to the hands that raise the family and run the home…

For we’re a nation of community, of thousands and tens of thousands of ethnic, religious, social, business, labor union, neighborhood, regional and other organizations, all of them varied, voluntary and unique.  This is America … a brilliant diversity spreads like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.

Two.  Anyone who has worked with communities eventually recognizes the tremendous importance of getting businesses involved in community-wide initiatives.  But if you watch TV or listen to the news, you get a uniformly negative view of businesses and business-people.  I have been – am – a critic of Big Business (and Big Government and Big Unions and Big Religion and Big …) but I don’t think that Big X is evil, just subject to Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy and thus too often ineffective.  For example, I have often said that the Department of Energy is made up of very bright people resulting in an organization with the IQ of a doorknob (and I apologize for insulting doorknobs!).  Business is not evil; and purpose-driven businesses, engaging in Conscious Capitalism, should be essential components of a community’s resilience.

Three.  Somehow, the developed world seems to have lost the thread on public health and health care.  In the US, it’s all about the money – who pays, the role of insurers and holding costs down.  While I don’t mean to downplay the role that money plays, the political debates have distracted us from what should be our focus:  healthy people in healthy communities.  Communities need healthy hands to build or rebuild themselves.  Health care as practiced in the developed world is the human equivalent of rebuilding damaged infrastructure.  But Wellness is equally important to individual, family and community resilience; just as is building robust infrastructure.  I intend to write more on this in the new year.

Four.  I don’t know about you, but I get really angry when I read articles like I did this morning that said that the world might be a better place if there weren’t any people – “We’re killing the animals” or “We’re destroying the planet” – on and on a litany of supposed woes centered on Man’s supposed sins against Nature.  And the proffered solutions are always something anti-human:  stop using fossil fuels (abandoning the gains made by the Third World to climb out of poverty); embrace socialism (how’s that working in Venezuela?); in fact, turn our backs on freedom and let the government provide comfortable living for all (and by giving up the one we will have neither).

Five.  In times like these, one of the things we need most is humor.  Like most of us, I tend to take what I see around me way too seriously.  I need my daily dose of Zits and Frazz and Blondie and Beetle Bailey to keep me this side of sane (I think it’s the right side).  It’s sad to see that comedians like Seinfeld and Chris Rock won’t play college campuses because the students don’t have a sense of humor; or that brilliant comedians like Yakov Smirnoff (“There is a direct connection between Love and Laughter”) have to sign contracts promising they won’t insult anyone before they can perform on college campuses.  Please cherish the jokesters and the punsters:  for they are the cracked mirrors that help us see ourselves, our communities and our world better.

Finally, I wish everyone the best for this Holiday Season.  Though I’m not a religious man (Even though the US Army asked me to become a Druid Chaplain – a story to be told with wassail cup in hand!), I relish the Season’s refreshing of our Spirits and the renewal of our ties to family, friends and community.  Let’s hope 2019 is less tumultuous than 2018.