Enlightened Conflict

sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream

April 15th, 2017

 American Workers sweat hard hats

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‘In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream …’ It’s a ‘death trap,’ a ‘suicide rap.’

‘I want to guard your dreams and visions.’ ”

 

Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run

 

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“This man said that you can move to Greece, live in Greece, but you can’t become a Greek. You can move to Japan, live there, but you can’t become Japanese; or France and become a Frenchman; or German—or become a—all of these things.

But he said, everybody or anybody from any corner of the world can come to America and become an American.”

 

—————–

Ronald Reagan

 

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Ok.

 

I have a piece coming up on globalization but today it is about the American work flintstoneswork ethos and American workers and, I imagine, a view on any version of isolationism <extreme to practical>.

 

I admit.

I find very little appealing in an isolationist concept <any aspect of it> … even the common rhetoric of the day.

 

Simplistically I feel like it suggests we, America, cannot compete globally. In my pea like brain I view it like sports … sports in which almost every home team retains an advantage … despite the same rules, same number of players, same dimensions of the court & field. Mainly it comes down to coaching, ability and , I imagine, pride of home field … uhm … but I still get on a bus and go play away games.

 

I believe it was Ronald Reagan who said ”American workers don’t need to hide from anyone.”

 

Which reminds me of how much during American presidential campaign, and even now somewhat, I found it extremely aggravating how we had a bunch of people talking about American workers and American businesses.

work sheep wolf

They all seemed to forget that our ethos is “just do it.”

 

When set free to do the voodoo it does … American business is dynamic, energetic, innovative, can-do and actually gets out there and makes & sells shit.

 

We shouldn’t be impatient because the success is coming fast enough and in our impatience “change the rules” or “hide within our borders” but instead we should use our impatience to invite competition, sweat it out and beat the crap out of them.

 

My impatience? I sometimes get a bit impatient when I hear people moaning about the state of the world and the inevitable “the sky is falling” or “the world is unfair” <pick your poison>.

 

Given an opportunity every generation believes it is tougher for them and will create their own prognostications of doom & gloom and, yet, we are still here and still have the world’s largest economy <and best on a variety of measures>.

 

I am not suggesting there aren’t real business issues and I am not suggesting from a regulatory standpoint there are some tweaks to the system which would enable businesses to improve themselves to compete better <please notice I didn’t say “to constrict the competition” but rather to have us improve to compete>.

 

Isolation goes against every bone in our “just do it” American body & soul.

 

Nike trademarked it but the pilgrims brought it to America. From day one immigrants, with the help of Native Americans, went to work building America … stone by stone … seed by seed … idea by idea … sweat drop by sweat drop.

 

labor american workerAmerica First should never be America Alone.

 

America has never been an individual competition it has always been about a team competition.

 

America First should be earned on the playing field competing against the best of the best and winning <by the way … that defines ‘exceptionalism’>.

 

America should be about building a better engine, building a better race car and running a better race.

 

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”It’s time to gun the engines, not put on the brakes.”

 

——–

Ronald Reagan

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It is aggravating to hear “close the borders” combined with “the world is going to shit” … which all leads to ‘disengage from the world <competition>.’

 

Really?

 

REALLY?

 

What kind of shit response is that?

What kind of “winner” doesn’t want to compete and compete against the best?

 

It seems like we should be investing not in building advantages for ourselves but rather in building a better team. That is where money and energy should be spent.

 

Hire better coaches.

Offer better training programs.

Buy better equipment.

Study better strategies.

Create better plan of attacks.

no substitute for hard work sweat edison

 

 

I wasn’t a huge Ronald Reagan fan but he got it … he hated changing the rules of the business game <tariffs & regulations> and only did so situationally, tactically and for short term ‘balancing out’ … as he says …  given a respite from predatory import practices, can become competitive in a world market.

 

But … he understood the importance of the attitude of the American worker above all else … check out these words he said to Harley Davidson:

 

… you gave some folks in Washington an important lesson about how we go about buying and selling with other nations. You see, we’ve shaken hands on an agreement with most of the other nations of the world, an agreement that sets the rules for international trade. We have problems, of course, with some of those nations—the ones that don’t let us sell to their people as freely as they sell to ours. But the agreement, called the GATT agreement—that’s the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade — gives us ways of dealing with those problems, and it also gives us ways of giving industries the kind of breathing room we gave you.

 

And if they’re as serious as you were about shaping up—now we’re about to begin worldwide talks on how to make this agreement even stronger.

 

Because of the GATT agreement, when you were ready to sell more bikes around the world, no one stopped you.

But now there are some in Congress who say, in effect, that the United States should break its word with the other countries.

They say American workers need to run and hide from foreign competition, even if that means other countries will strike back by not letting you sell your bikes to their people. Well, Harley-Davidson has shown how wrong that is and what the truth is. American workers don’t need to hide from anyone. America does best when America sticks by its word. And American workers can take on the best in the world, anywhere, anytime, anyplace. No one is better than you are.

 

You may have heard that my temperature’s up about some trade legislation that’s before the Congress right now. On TV the other night, it was called one of the toughest trade bills of this century. I remember the last time we had a so-called tough trade bill. It was called Smoot-Hawley, and they said it would protect American jobs. Instead, after other nations were through retaliating, it helped us—or it helped give us, or at least deepened, the Great Depression of the 1930’s. I’m probably the only one here that’s old enough to remember that. I was looking for a job then. [Laughter] Twenty-five percent were unemployed, including me.

 

The Harley-Davidson example makes a very strong statement about how government, through the judicious application of our trade laws, can help the best and the brightest in American management and labor come together in ways that will create new jobs, new growth, and new prosperity. Government’s role, particularly on the trade front, should be one of creating the conditions where fair trade will flourish, and this is precisely what has been done here. Our trade laws should work to foster growth and trade, not shut it off. And that’s what’s at the heart of our fair trade policy: opening foreign markets, not closing ours. Where U.S. firms have suffered from temporary surges in foreign competition, we haven’t been shy about using our import laws to produce temporary relief. Now, there are those in Congress who say our trade policies haven’t worked, but you here at Harley-Davidson are living proof that our laws are working. The idea of going to mandatory retaliation and shutting down on Presidential discretion in enforcing our trade laws is moving toward a policy that invites, even encourages, trade wars. It’s time to work to expand the world market, not restrict it.

 

Today, as many as 10 million American jobs are tied to international trade, including many jobs right here at Harley. For more than a century, when America’s trade with the world has grown, America has created more jobs. When trade has declined, so have the number of jobs. So, when it comes to making new jobs, free and fair international trade is America’s big machine. It’s time to gun the engines, not put on the brakes. Your chairman, Vaughn Beals, summed it up when he said, and I will quote him: “We’re sending a very strong message to our competitors and to the international industrial community that U.S. workers, given a respite from predatory import practices, can become competitive in a world market.”

 

The best way to meet foreign competition is also the right way: by sticking to our agreements with other countries and not breaking our promises, by making sure other countries also stick to their agreements with us, and by being the best. As America prepares for the 21st century, you’ve shown us how to be the best. You’ve been leaders in new technology. You’ve stuck by the basic American values of hard work and fair play.

 

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A danger we are currently meandering our way toward is one of attitude.

 

attitude foreign life adventureWe currently have a president who doesn’t foster attitude and belief in self but rather believes success is found solely in removing disadvantages, real or not, and removing “unfairness” <even if the other team were simply playing the game better or had better players>.

 

He is wrong in his approach.

 

Business is often more about attitude and fortitude then it is about whether “the pitch was mowed at 1 inch instead of an inch & a ½.”

 

It is a false narrative, and a dangerous narrative, to suggest success is based on ‘fairness’. Why? Because … well … more often than not we will always find that the world was unfair in some form or fashion … and you know what?

You still gotta compete, you still gotta play the game and you still gotta figure out a way to win.

 

America is at its best just doing it … sweating it out on the streets seeking the runaway American dream.

 

America is at its best when it ignores all the reason why we cannot do something and just go do it anyway.

 

America is at its best when we have a leader standing up in front of us not making excuses, not whining about unfairness and all the reasons why we haven’t been successful … but one who is instead saying “here is what we are gonna do and lets go do it.”

 

It was Theodore Roosevelt, in 1904, who said:

“We, the people, can preserve our liberty and our greatness in time of peace only by ourselves exercising the virtues of honesty, of self-restraint, and of fair dealing between man and man.”

But he also reminded everyone of the importance of work ethic.

“They stood for the life of effort, not the life of ease.”

Freedom, Roosevelt warned, had to be earned by the exercise of restraint, and its bounty could only be harvested by diligent labor.

 

Anyway.

 

I am not an isolationist mostly because of all I have written today. I am a compete flower bloombusiness guy and as a business guy I want to compete … and I believe I can compete well and win often enough if I put in the smart thinking and the diligent labor.

 

While I may proudly wrap myself in an American flag I also proudly wrap myself in an attitude … ”American workers don’t need to hide from anyone” … and I am an American worker.

 

We should never underestimate the American worker and American business ingenuity.

We shouldn’t hide from the world … we should be building the best team and sending them to the far corners of the world, wherever they may have an opportunity to compete, and win through hard work and fair play.

 

Isolation is the wrong path. It’s not American. We compete, work hard, play by the rules … and win more often than we lose.

 

American workers can take on the best in the world, anywhere, anytime, anyplace.

but I’m all I have

April 13th, 2017

saved thoughts think dark messy self

 

“I’m not much but I’m all I have.”

 

Philip K. Dick

 

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“I’m still learning to love the parts of me that no one claps for.”

 

Rudy Francisco

 

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“Before I travelled my road I was my road.”

 

—–

Antonio Porchia

 

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Ok.

 

Me against the world.

understand blows awayI imagine everyone feels that way on occasion. And maybe at that time, or another time, you will also feel “whew, the world is against me” and question whether you have what it takes.

And then there will be the times you suck in your breath, stand up a little straighter and say “WTF, I’m all I have … and I better clap for the parts of me that maybe no one sees, or acknowledges, but are the things that are actually help me in the me against the world.”

 

Now.

 

A shitload of people are gonna say that most people are never really alone in this “against” thing and that if you carry the burden of “against” solely, as an individual, you decrease your odds of not only being able to carry such a burden but also to actually have some success.

 

So, sure, it is definitely a “team” <or “village”> world.

 

So, sure, success is almost completely dependent upon being able to figure out at least some way to assimilate into a larger group, interact with others or share some responsibility to multiply efforts.

 

And, yet, ‘pulling your own weight’ is a 100% individual, I, thing.

 

Let’s face it.

 

Team or no team, village or no village, organization or no organization … there will be points in Life and your career where it will be “I am all I have.”

 

And … at all points in Life we are responsible to ourselves for our own existence.

 

And … if you face that as Life truths then … well … it seems that, consequently, you would want to be the pilot of your existence ship and refuse to let your path be dictated by the whims of the world <which is against you>.

 

And … if you buy all that … well … you are your road, you learn to clap for the parts of yourself no one sees and you realize that you are all you have.light switch on off change

 

I am not suggesting this is easy … nor is this one of those things that happens in your Life like a light switch.

Most of us begrudgingly reach this point grinding our way to a point of acceptance all the way vacillating on accepting ‘I am all I have’ and ‘wishing I was more.’ That vacillation may distill down the most common and visible defect we have as people … inconsistency in how we think about ourselves as well as inconsistency in our behavior <how we react in, and to, certain situations>.

 

 

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“Since vacillation seems to me the most common and visible defect of our nature.”

—-

Montaigne ‘of the inconstancy of our actions’

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I would guess our ‘defect’ isn’t really as bad as we think … mainly because I imagine most of us focus on the wrong things. We focus on the ‘deeds’ or specific actions rather than our inward impulses.

 

That makes sense .

 

kitchen-table-vision-think-lead-transactional-constructIt makes sense because I can see an act, see a behavior, and see an outcome. Inwards looking is a little less concrete and we are also pretty good at twisting our inward impulses through some fairly absurd navel gazing processes which mostly mangle any real conclusions.

 

What makes more sense is to focus on the right thing.

When we live Life right our actions remain steadfast in character so that Life cannot sufficiently bend the enough to matter and yet our actions contain a’ diversity so manifest, sudden and continual.’

 

Everyone should read Montaigne … he may be the ultimate spokesperson for “but I am all I have.”.

 

Our minds vary like the daylight day to day.

 

One courageous deed does not prove one brave.

 

One cowardly deed does not prove one a coward.

 

One smart deed does not prove one intelligent.

 

One stupid deed does not make one an idiot.

 

One deed is simply one deed.

 

What proves who you are is … well … you are what you are as you are always on i am enough chalkboardall occasions.

 

As Montaigne finished ‘inconstancy’ he closes with “… it is not the work of a well-tempered mind to judge us simply by our outward actions; we must search the inward parts, and see by what springs the impulse give.”

 

No outside person can truly search the ‘inward parts’ … only “I” can.

Because … well … I am all I have. And, for 99% of us, it is enough.

 

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“I will clamber through the clouds and exist.

 

John Keats

 

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on how we are behaving

April 11th, 2017

 behave toward each other discourse mean

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“Etiquette means behaving yourself a little better than is absolutely essential.”

 

—–

Will Cuppy

 

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“The grace of the gesture is as important as the victories.”

 

—–

Rene Lacoste

 

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Well.

 

Europeans, in general, have always been nicer acting, better behaving and more scared what you see‘refined’ <by degree> than Americans.

<please> Everyone just accept that as a Life truth.

 

So having a European look on in horror at how an American acts is an ongoing event … since almost the dawn of … well … dawn <of every day>.

 

But now it is not just Europeans looking on in horror … we, as in you & I, are also looking around dumbfounded by some of the behavior we are seeing in America.

 

Study after study after study <I just saw another one today> is showing that men are acting more like assholes, white supremacists are acting more like white supremacists, anti-Semites are acting more like anti-Semites, politicians are acting more like caricature politicians, everyone named Homer is acting more like Homer Simpson and, in general, any aspect of our internal asshole in anyone is coming out.

good manners etiquette

I am certainly not suggesting we should all be studying Emily Posts’s Book of Etiquette but behaving well should be about behaving a little better than absolutely essential and not behaving a little worse than absolutely essential.

 

Now.

 

Whether you believe there is a direct relationship or an indirect relationship with Trump … or any relationship I imagine … it is happening at the same time Trump is happening.

 

Coincidence or correlation? … pick your poison.

 

There are a couple of things that seem to be happening.

 

 

Political correctness backlash.

 

Political correctness, for all its good intentions, clashed with the natural political correctness holbrook thinkinability that maybe 90% of people have … an inability to artfully articulate their thoughts.

So let’s say that 90% of that 90% say stupid shit with no bad intentions … this translates into a semi-made up-factoid that almost 80% of all people are getting slammed by political correctness and the majority of them mean nothing bad … they just suck at articulating their thoughts.

 

Sure. Many of those people will attempt to get better at articulating what they feel & think … but, in general, this means a shitload of well-meaning people harbor some bad feelings toward not being able to just talk the way they talk.

 

And then … well … along comes Donald J. Trump … a 70 year old man who sometimes talks like a junior high school bully and sometimes talks like the well-meaning guy at the bar <although he is certainly not well meaning> who has ‘one too many’.   A significant portion of us think “whew, finally, an excuse to say all the things I just want to say without having to weigh every word I say.”

 

There is nothing inherently bad about saying what you are thinking.

 

But.

 

Inherent is what I just shared is … well … you start behaving a little more like an asshole <behaving badly>.

 

Think of this as the puppy set off the leash. The leash gave them some freedom but, once off, they go wild with no boundaries … in general being a boisterous puppy and being the unbounded happy assholeish puppy … at least for a while.

 

At some point they recognize maybe not that the leash was good but that the leash kept them closer to their owner and some of their assholeish puppiness isn’t received as well as they were sure it would be received – and they start going back toward the leash holder and maybe curbing their puppiness a little bit.trump is an asshole mayor

 

My point is the asshole factor has increased but I imagine at some point it will revert back a little closer to what political correctness suggested was a good thing <at least one could hope>.

 

The fly in this ointment is Trump. He has no leash, has never been on a leash and … in fact … seems to believe leashes are inherently bad.

 

He is not exactly a great role model for puppies <or people>.

 

 

I am pissed because it seems everyone else gets a break and I do not.

 

 

Trump only views the world as winners & losers, i.e., if you don’t win you are a loser. Well. What this does is encourage all of us to think of the world as a simplistic fight over limited resources where the other guy/gal is competing for your share. In other words you lose if they win.

 

Now.

 

If you believe this … or this thought even bleeds into your consciousness on occasion … well … you start behaving a little more like an asshole <behaving badly>.

 

I am certainly not blaming Trump for all our increased bad behavior but he is certainly an enabler with the whole win or be a loser mindset.

 

He embodies a toxic resentment toward everyone who has something he believes is his – and this attitude bleeds into how he views America. Germany, NATO, China, Mexico, whomever … all has shit that should be ours. Money, trade, power, etc. him his rightful place in the world.

 

File photo dated 08/04/17 of Saffiyah Khan (left) staring down English Defence League (EDL) protester Ian Crossland during a demonstration in Birmingham, as she has said she was "not scared in the slightest" during the tense confrontation.

Symbolically <to those who claim he has a racist muscle> … this is quite like the resentment of an old white man who believes everything is infringing upon his ability to access the pride, power & pay that rightfully belongs to him.

 

Just like my puppy on a leash example … this is like a puppy who grows up alone but realizes that going to the puppy playground is a shitload more fun … and even more fun if you behave well.

 

The fly in this ointment is Trump. he doesn’t want to play with other puppies, he hates the puppy playground and says … well … puppies are losers … I want to be a lion or the leader of the wolf pack <and fuck whatever female wolf I want whenever I want>.

 

Trump treats everyone outside his immediate family members as people who are out to deny him not only from what he wants but also what he believes belongs to him <this attitude bleeds into how he views America and other counties>. This is not exactly a great role model for anyone who is not part of a rich powerful family <and I could argue it isn’t a good role model even for them>.

 

He is not a particularly good role model if we want to encourage the belief the country is a team which needs to work together, make some sacrifices for the other team members so that the team benefits <and will never go 365-0 in a season>.

 

Ok.

 

Look.

 

We all have flaws and the system, society and institutions are flawed. But just because it is flawed doesn’t mean an asshole president should suddenly set a new bar for behavior that is so low it makes a guy’s junior high school locker room actually appear slightly dignified.

 

But I imagine my point is that the bar for acceptable good behavior has dropped significantly. Studies show it. Shit. Just watch the people around you or watch some tv and you will actually see it.

 

Anyway.

 

I think we all know that Life isn’t just solely about winning and losing. I think we all know that some basic good behavior isn’t something that needs to be dictated but rather it is simply something good for common humanity within a population with a desire to have better things and do better things than we are doing today.

behave well being of society care trust fairness

I think we all know that behaving, at least relatively so the majority of the time, well has a reward that may not always show up in pride, power & pay but rather in dignity, honor & … well … certainty.

 

Yeah.

Certainty.

 

Good behavior by the bulk of a population tends to lead people to a certainty that society will treat them more fairly, institutions will treat them more fairly and the world, in general, will treat them more fairly … because we can become more certain we will be less screwed more often because people will behave less badly more often <plus … we are happier this way>.

 

In the end.

 

I do believe we are behaving more badly.

 

And while I have the studies and I have the research I don’t really need them. I can just turn on the TV and watch a president who behaves more badly than the majority of the typical high school student. With this kind of role model why wouldn’t a significant portion of the citizenry believe they could behave more badly than they had been behaving the day before?

Suffice it to say that if everyone took one step backwards in their behavior, given the wide spectrum of current behavior from good to heinous, it just doesn’t paint a pretty picture.

 

We are acting more like assholes every day.

Even the people who are trying to stand up against the assholes.

 

If I didn’t want to be that harsh I could have said “it appears our level of courteous behavior toward each other is declining” but I didn’t … because research is clearly showing our inner asshole is becoming our outer asshole behavior.

 

bad behavior be courteous all the time represent yourselfI believe we are better than this <and I also believe the average American is better, behaviorwise, than our so-called President>.

We will get through this and I tend to believe in the end we will end up in a better place.

 

But, boy oh boy, the level of our general discourse and behavior has surely declined significantly lately and I cannot wait for it to begin improving.

 

As I stated upfront … I am certainly not suggesting we should all be studying Emily Posts’s Book of Etiquette … but behaving well should be about behaving a little better than absolutely essential and not a little worse than absolutely essential.

 

 

Enlightened Conflict