Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Crusty Old Biker’s Evaluation of the Leadership of the United States

As most of you well know, the vast majority of my blog Posts address issues associated with romantic adult relationships and contemporary philosophy. On occasion, nonetheless, I deviate from my norm. This is one of them.

Last night, nothing less than another hot, muggy evening along the Gulf coast of Florida, I decided not to stay in the air conditioning or under the paddle fans on my back porch and go for a motorcycle ride. As I was cruising along, heading north on Gulf Boulevard, I decided to stop in Redington Shores at one of my favorite biker bars – the Friendly Tavern. After parking my 2005 Harley-Davidson Road King Classic, I grabbed one of the stools at the end of the outside thatch-covered outside bar, ordered a Bud Light and an ice water, and listened in on some of the bantering among the fellow bikers seated around the bar. Across from me was an interesting, older, crusty gentleman who was talking about his restored, vintage Indian Chief. When I had parked next to it, I admired the beautiful 50+ year old bike, and when I offered my complimentary observations to him, he was appreciative.

A few minutes later as the conversation focused on the leadership of politicians – at the local, state and federal levels – everyone turned to see another bike pulling up and parking. My observation of the eye contact and body language around the bar suggested two things: (1) the bike was an admirably sleek, brand new Harley-Davidson Street Glide, chromed out to the gills; and (2) its owner had all the trappings of an arrogant YUPPIE who thought the world, including the arm-candy blond he had on the back, owed him. Nonetheless, the "we-need-better-leadership-from-our-elected-officials” conversation continued among the in situ sages. After reiterating his annoyance that the bar didn’t have Perrier for his woman and taking a swig of his imported lager, Mr. Street Glide snickered and contributed his pearl of wisdom: “What ever our boys are doin’ I just hope they keep doin’ it – when a man has a bike like that and a woman like this, what is there to complain about?”

“I can think of a few things that I’m concerned about,” softly commented Mr. Indian Chief.

“Name one,” smugly snapped Mr. Street Glide in a condescending manner.

As the crusty old man hoisted himself off his stool, readying to head toward the inside porcelain litter box, he said, “How about the thousands of Americans who have been killed or maimed in Iraq, the thousands of dead Iraqis, our national debt in the trillions and growing, the circumvention of our Constitution, illegal CIA torture chambers around the world, the weakening of environmental protections, a Justice Department that is being told what to do by politicians, 50+ million Americans without health care, and Americans being hated around the world?”

Almost in unison, everyone smiled and raised their drinks in a toasting fashion toward the older gentleman as he headed inside – except Mr. Street Glide who stood aghast with his mouth open, catching flies.

A few minutes later as I was riding home, a smile splayed across my face as I thought, well, at least somebody’s paying attention.

Question: What are some of your thoughts regarding the leadership of our country?



Anonymous said...

This country is in need of some soul searching. Maybe something like Zen and the Art of Democratic Maintenance.

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello Anonymous,
Thank you for visiting and offering an excellent Comment, including considerations that could be mused on various levels and perspectives. For example, from a literal perspective I first of all would say…. I assume that by Zen you are referring to the school of Mahāyāna Buddhism notable for its emphasis on practice and experiential wisdom… essentially de-emphasizing both theoretical knowledge and the study of religious texts in favor of direct individual experience of one's own true nature. Secondly, I assume you are not necessarily talking about “Democratic” as in the “The Democratic Party” per se but referring to democracy as a form of government. (Interestingly, nonetheless, let’s remember that there are different forms of “democracy” – e.g., Representative Democracy, Liberal Democracy, Direct Democracy, Socialist Democracy, Anarchist Democracy, Sortition, Tribal Democracy, and Consensus Democracy.)
I also wonder if you are suggesting what I am thinking… that we have become very self-focused, selfishly complacent and lazy, and combined with numerous changes in the world since 1776 maybe it’s time for us to look inward and put our values (as we practice, not as we preach) under the microscope and find out what kind of people we are and how we may like to change the kind of people we are (or have become).
Jeez… look what you started with two sentences (nineteen words)!
Excellent Comment!
Thank you,

Miss Frou Frou said...

Great story.. I do not feel that I can comment on the US, as a non-american. I have concerns enough about my own government! And I think my quote from The Day the Earth Stood Still on my blog awhile ago, covers my stance, particularly on military aggression.

BTW, I tagged you for a meme - not sure if you do them, but this is an interesting one re: events that occur on your birthday.

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello Miss Frou Frou,
I appreciate your stopping by and your gracious comment regarding the story. There were, in my view, a number of sub-stories (e.g., the younger YUPPIE totally underestimated the older crusty-looking gentleman, not to mention all of the "few things he was worried about").
I am sure you have your own governmental concerns... mine about the United States (and the world) tend to grow exponentially).
I love your blog and will go back and look for the quote from The Day the World Stood Still.
Thanks again for the visit... hope to see you again,
P.S. I'll check out the tag/meme thing.

Anonymous said...

The thing I find funny about the general public and politics is how easy everyone on both sides of the aisle think it should be to fix certain issues. I tend to lean on the Democratic side of the spectrum but I also don't blame the current leadership for everything that is wrong in the world. A lot of times politicians' hands are tied and they are in lose-lose situations. Take health care. I think everyone (except insurance companies) would agree that something needs to be done. However, people continue to smoke, eat fried food into obesity, drive without seat belts, not use sunscreen, etc. and then wonder why their premiums skyrocket. Perhaps a national system would fix it but good luck getting elected if your platform calls for a 35% national sales tax to pay for it. Also, part of what attracts some of the best and brightest minds to medicine is the allure of high salaries. If we control the costs and salaries by nationalizing medicine, would these minds still pursue medicine or would they go into another field like law or business? Would the person would could find a cure for cancer become a real estate mogul instead? We don't know.

My point is this. There are no easy fixes. The legislators have to be concerned with all constituents - not only the elderly who can't afford their prescription drugs but also the sole provider for a family of four that works at the insurance company that would go out of business if we nationalize health care. It will take a lot of time hard work to get us out of Iraq, fix health care, Social Security, eduation, etc. I believe that as long as people vote their consciences and elect people (Democrat or Republican) who will work hard and put the best interest of the country at the for front, we will continue to lead the world as we have for the last 100 years.

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello again Maconole,
Thank you for your numerous insightful and in-depth considerations (as usual for you).
I read through your thoughts and can not disagree with anything you say. And please know that I not only agree with the importance of voting with ones conscience, but at the same time considering the candidates basic values. For example, I also tend to lean on the Republican side, yet still vote for the candidate I believe would best serve – indifference to what side of the isle he or she is from. To wit, I vividly remember voting for Jack Kennedy (Democrat) and Ronald Reagan (Republican) not only because I thought they would make good decisions, but believed they would facilitate and inculcate good values – non-egotistical, non-jingoistic, humanitarian and compassionate values – not only throughout the United States but throughout the world. (I also believe Bill Clinton was that way as well.)
My memory tells me that in addition to considering financial rewards, people use to go into medicine and law also because they wanted to help people! Having been around during my formative years with Jack Kennedy as President, I became a psychologist and a professor because I wanted to help people and teach other people how to help people. I would love to see such kinds of values return in our society (i.e., I see the “meism” of the 80’s and 90’s running rampant in many parts of our society).
You’re so spot on – there are no bumper-sticker or campaign-slogan solutions to the numerous, synergistic issues of today’s world. To wit, it may be helpful to revisit our election processes in our country – I recently read that if you don’t have at least $100 mil. you’ll never get elected. And the extensiveness of the vetting process… oy!
Wow, this obviously could go on and on… a week seminar just to scratch the surface. Wouldn’t it be neat if we identified twenty of our best minds and locked them away for two weeks and asked them to visit all of these issues and come out with some recommendations! (We don’t use think-tanks anymore… I could suggest why I think that, but it would take another three paragraphs.)
Thanks again Maconole!

Anonymous said...

The old crusty biker riding the Indian is one whom I would most enjoy spending the afternoon chatting. Thanks for the great article!


Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello TJ,
Thanks for stopping by, as well as your complimentary comment about the Post. I also enjoyed seeing your home page and blogs.
I subsequently found out that the old Indian Rider is a retired electrical engineer as well as a retired USAF pilot who flew many missions over Viet Nam. I have enjoyed chatting with him -- you'd a loved it!
Thanks again... come back soon,