Monday, June 29, 2015

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Innocence can be more powerful than experience. - Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

We've let the blade of our innocence dull over time, and it's only in innocence that you find any kind of magic, any kind of courage. - Sean Penn

Speak the truth even if your voice shakes. - Maggie Kuhn

The #1206 “fiction” series continues …


Applause erupted from the crowd as the President of the United States stepped into view on the stage, flanked by a number of community and organization leaders.

Waving to the expectant crowd of men, women and children, he stepped up onto the dais, beaming to the jubilant crowd before him.  He extended his arms up high before him and addressed the room.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you”, he said in slow, measured tones, the smile never leaving his face.

The applause grew louder and he stepped back for a moment as he took in the energy being shared with him.

He paused, stepped up to the microphone again, extended his arms and gestured slightly with his hands as if gently asking for quiet.

“Thank you”, he said again.  “My friends, today is a historic day.  After months of difficult negotiation with many of the fine men and women you see before you, I am pleased to be able to announce a number of initiatives that will make this country stronger and better prepared for its great future.”

The crowd went silent in expectation, hanging on his every word.

“My friends”, the President continued, “Today I am proud to make the following announcements.  In recognition of the great strides we have made with our LGBTQ community and in conjunction with the great strides we have made together with the Supreme Court, I am proud to announce a significant revision to the 16th Amendment of our Constitution.  This revision will allow LGBTQ couples who were prevented for years from marrying to retroactively claim benefits they should have been able to claim on their income tax.  The benefits are being calculated now and payments are expected to be rolled out within three months.  In order to make up for lost opportunities and past discrimination, we will also be passing a law providing for preferential hiring practices that will be mandatory for all companies and our government to abide by when hiring LGBTQ citizens moving forward.”

He paused as the room exploded in applause.

The President paused for a moment and smiled before holding up his hands again to quiet the crowd.

“In addition”, he continued, “We are working with a number of groups such as the NAACP and others to finally rid our great nation from some of the negative parts of our past.  Effective immediately, all references to slavery in the past as well as racial oppression will be removed from our landscape.  Congress is preparing a resolution to make all references to the Confederate Flag illegal in our great nation.  The Secretary of Education has committed to removing all references to the civil war that ripped our nation in two from our history books and within 5 years, that terrible part of our history will never again be taught to our children.  Representatives from Hollywood, television media and other groups have committed to never again making or showing movies that reference the civil war.  And finally, the Jefferson Memorial, statues of leaders from the South and other monuments will also be torn down and we will soon be free to forget the scourge of our past that was racial oppression.  We are also working on a series of reparation payments to be made to all of the citizens of this nation who have, through themselves or their ancestors, ever been a victim of racial prejudice.”

The crowd applauded again although this time there were a few cries of dissent amongst the applause.

The President cleared his throat and continued to speak.  “Working with our religious leaders”, he said, “We also recognize that references to God and religion within government, whether it be on public buildings, within the wording of our Constitution, the Declaration of Independence or other works, are offensive to those of different faiths or of no faith and will be removed effectively immediately.  We may take other action in this area as we see fit moving forward.”

The applause that followed was much more diminished as people began to look at each other with some concern.

“Effective immediately, we will also reduce the penalties for soft drug usage, recognizing that lighter drugs such as marijuana and similar drugs pose no threat to the safety of our nation and that our citizens should be allowed to relax in ways that pose no threat to others.”

A rumble started to manifest within the crowd amidst a few hoots of support.

“And finally”, said the President, “We recognize that our immigration laws and polices are far too strict and are preventing many great people from entering a nation that was built by immigrants.  Pursuant to this, I am asking Congress to remove the need for any background checks for anyone wishing to come to our great nation.  I am asking that this amnesty policy be limited to a trial period of five years as we welcome people from around the world to our great nation.  If Congress is unwilling to provide this as I requested, I will invoke executive privilege to make it happen.”

Light applause greeted the announcement.

“We have always been a great nation”, concluded the President, “And I believe that these initiatives and others will make us stronger and will help us to be less divisive as a people moving forward.”

Silence filled the room for a moment but was broken by a small voice near the front of the room.

“Excuse me, Mr. President”, the small voice said.

The President looked into the crowd before identifying the source of the polite request, a young girl of maybe seven or eight years of age, with her clear blue eyes staring up at him earnestly.

“The young lady in the front has a question”, the President said to the audience, “Please come up and ask me anything you want, young lady.”

Secret Service agents found the young child and escorted her up to the stage.

“What’s your name?”, the President asked gently.

“Sarah”, she replied quietly, suddenly overwhelmed as she stared at the hundreds of people before her who looked up at her in silence.

“And what would you like to ask me, Sarah?”, the President asked as he smiled.

“Well”, she said, suddenly becoming shy and looking nervously at her feet.  “My mommy and daddy have been without a real job for a few years and I was wondering what you are doing to help them.  My daddy fought overseas and he struggles a lot with stuff that happened over there.  He tells mommy that what we did overseas puts us in more danger at home from people who want to hurt us.  Mommy works for an electric company and I heard her tell someone that bad people can use the Internet to make our electricity stop working and then we would all be in danger.  We also studied in school that countries are in trouble around the world because they can’t pay borrowed money back and if they can’t pay their money back, bad things might happen to the whole world.  Plus we learned that a lot of countries are building bigger bombs that could blow everything up.”

She paused nervously.

“I guess what I am asking is that while all of the things you are talking about are very good for some people, I am very afraid of the future for my mommy and daddy and me.  Can you tell me why we shouldn’t be afraid for our future?”

She paused as tears began to well up in her clear blue eyes.  “Who will take care of us, Mr. President?”, she asked quietly.

The President paused and the room was deathly silent in anticipation of a response from him.

“You are a very smart young girl”, the President said, smiling as he patted her on the head, “Your parents must be very proud of you.”

He gestured to Secret Service agents to take her back to her parents.

As they approached her, she turned to the crowd who stared at her in silence.

“Can anyone answer my question?”, she asked quietly.

No answer was offered as she was escorted off the stage.

To be continued.


© 2015 – Harry Tucker – All Rights Reserved

Background

All of the scenarios described in this fictional account have actually been suggested or recommended by different groups (with the exception of new nuclear weapons development which is already under way).  I thought the confluence of a few of these things would make an interesting story as perceived from the viewpoint of the young girl.  There are many things I could have added – I named a few for the sake of brevity.

Guaranteeing equal rights under the law is important as is the need to make right the mistakes of our past but let’s not lose sight of the many other important things that need to be addressed at the same time.  Failure to address them will impact all of us no matter what rights we have earned or have been bequeathed and regardless of any affronts that have been corrected.

The media and politicians seem singular in focus when it comes to things that are easily solved.

I think the things that are not so easily solved are equally important.

What do you think?

Series Origin

This series, a departure from my usual musings, is inspired as a result of conversations with former senior advisors to multiple Presidents of the United States, senior officers in the US Military and other interesting folks as well as my own professional background as a Wall St. / Fortune 25 strategy and large-scale technology architect.

While this musing is just “fiction” and a departure from my musings on technology, strategy, politics and society, as a strategy guy, I do everything for a reason and with a measurable outcome in mind. :-)

This “fictional” musing is a continuation of the #1206 series noted here.