Saturday, September 22, 2018

On Values - The Need to Find Common Cause and Shared Values to Solve Our Problems

The 'Trump Baby' Blimp from the U.S. President's July 2018 visit to the United Kingdom. Seen here in a Photoshopped image leaving Air Force One with Melania Trump.

On Values


SCENE (from Terminator 2):



Somewhere in the U.S. mid-west. A young John Connor and his Mother Sarah are waiting while the Terminator, a machine with human appearance, works to repair their vehicle. While they watch the Terminator work, two young children, no older than 6, fight each other with realistic looking toy handguns.


JOHN (to The Terminator): "We're not going to make it, are we? People I mean."

THE TERMINATOR (to John): "It's in your nature to destroy yourselves."

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The above scene is one of the better known from Terminator 2, a classic North American science fiction movie from the early 1990's. Perhaps just as well known is the ending monologue, where Sarah Connor's voiceover intones: "No future but what we make."

At present, world leaders would do well to heed Sarah Connor's advice.

In North America

Donald Trump and his administration continue to rip up environmental regulations at a time critical for the fight against global warming. North of the U.S. / Canada border, Doug Ford's Conservative government in Ontario is following suit.

Europe is having troubles of its own. Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union in early 2019, deal or no deal. Tensions about immigration and border controls also pose a challenge to the European Union.

To deal with these challenges the world's democracies must find common cause and values again. Things that unite neighbours across party lines - things we can all strive to be, and to achieve. Only by doing so can we avoid repeating the past, and head off permanent climate change with unpredictable effects.

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Donald Trump's administration has been the focus of much news coverage. Not only for the widely acknowledged interference by Russia in the 2016 Presidential election, but also for numerous scandals and an exceptionally high staff turnover rate within the administration.

The New York Times recently published an excellent in-depth recap of the 2016 election, and Russian involvement. Without question there were multiple contacts between Trump's team and the Russians. As an openly pro-Russia candidate, Trump was an obvious choice for Putin to support. An inquiry led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller continues to this day. The President's former Lawyer, Michael Cohen, has been providing information to Mueller's inquiry.

The Environmental Protection Agency has recently proposed to weaken rules regulating the release of Methane from Oil and Gas operations. America's government has also rolled back automobile fuel efficiency standards, which it announced in August 2018.

Of course, none of this is good news.

It is my hope that Democrats make gains in the upcoming mid-term elections in the United States. There need to be proper checks and balances on the White House's power. Given America's influence in the world, this helps people worldwide.

As for the man in the Oval Office, his pettiness and cruelty are well-documented. His own Twitter account provides enough examples for those who haven't already seen the President's tweets splashed across the news. 

Trump personifies the pursuit of money without values. It's very sad to me that he still has admirers. His focus on 'Winning' will produce short term gains for a limited number of people, and long lasting consequences for everyone else.

Something must be done.

The real questions Trump voters need to be asking when looking at the man and his actions, are:

"What kind of people should we be? How should we treat each other?"


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In Europe
A recent article from The Economist titled: 'Life in the Centrifuge: Lessons for the EU from the Austro-Hungarian Empire' caught my eye. It compares the current situation in Europe with the Austro-Hungarian Empire that fell apart in the early 1900s'.

A key paragraph reads:

"The fate of Austria-Hungary showed that multinational units cannot survive times of hardship without a sense of common purpose. Thanks to the rise of English, budget airlines, the Internet and University exchanges, today’s young Europeans live much more “European” lives than previous generations. But politics is not keeping up. Nurturing a clearer European identity is not just a romantic goal; it is the only way to make the project sustainable in the long term, hard though history shows this to be."

From this writer's current station in Berlin, I see the point. Cheap EasyJet flights from within Europe do not a Union make.

A few weeks ago, I made a trip to an Ikea store near Berlin's Schöneberg district with a German friend. While we waited, and waited some more for the M48 Bus to make our return trip, he had a temper tantrum.

"Nichts in Berlin funktioniert mehr! Nichts ist p√ľnktlich! Was ist mit dieser Stadt passiert?"

I paraphrase here, because I don't remember his exact choice of words.

While Berlin is a fantastic city, and my favourite place in the world, the transit system is obviously under strain. U-Bahn doors not closing, and complete line shut downs because of power failures, are things I have seen in the city's Untergrund Bahn system. Other insights I will leave for a later blog entry.

At the time I thought my German friend was just letting off steam; I now see that he has a valid point.

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So what does this all mean for the world we live in?

It means that governments and individual citizens must re-dedicate themselves to the most pressing world issues. Climate Change, immigration issues, and the like can only be solved through compromise and working together.

We all need to buckle up and get ready for some serious work ahead of us.

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