Friday, August 10, 2012

Will It Hurt If I Pretend It’s Not There?

I was cut off this morning by a guy in a small truck who, as I approached him from his left, looked me right in the eye, looked forward, gunned his engine and raced across the road, missing me by inches.

While it was a close call, there was something I noticed as he raced across the road – something I have noticed in other drivers who drive carelessly like this.

He stared straight ahead with his jaw set and continued doing what he was doing (knowing I was there) when he could have avoided an issue by staying put and waiting the extra 5 seconds.

It looked like he was thinking “if I stare straight ahead and pretend he’s not there, he won’t hit me”.

As they say in the military, “his pucker factor was probably pretty high”.

Unfortunately for this driver, pretending I’m not there would not have eased the pain if the 4000 pound vehicle I was driving had carved his in two with him at the impact point.

Fortunately for this driver, one of us cared about the outcome and an accident was averted.

Meanwhile in America

I can’t help but look at the situation in America in the same way.

Mass shootings continue in the US but people assert that easy access to high power automatic weapons using armor piercing ammunition is not contributing to the issue.

Job growth in America is stagnant despite assurances from the President and others that things are looking up.

Young men and women continue to die overseas in wars that have had multiple justifications including fighting terrorism, eliminating WMDs, helping people throw off oppressive governments, helping people find democracy and a plethora of other reasons.  Now these fine men and women are making the ultimate sacrifice for no reason that anyone can put their finger on but we do it anyway and without question.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill continue to put their own needs and priorities above those whom they serve and represent.

And while I am not a “birther” by any stretch, I am intrigued that the President’s legal defense bill is now in the millions as he deals with allegations of issues with his birth certificate (the one produced has a checksum error on it suggesting it was tampered with or is not real), his social security numbers (yes, plural), his Selective Service card and the means by which he obtained his degrees at Harvard and Columbia.

Millions that will be expensed back to the taxpayer at some point through creative accounting.

Meanwhile, millions of people aren’t concerned that if the potential for deceit has been raised, it should be addressed lest a much greater deceit be revealed.

But I digress.

The Importance of Human Denial

Human denial is an important trait.  Sometimes rather than getting tied up in knots fretting over something, the trait of human denial allows us to pretend our problems are not there for the moment, to buy us the breathing room to think and to come up with a plan.

But once denial continues beyond that and our behavior doesn’t change, then future results aren’t too hard to predict.

And so as we stare straight ahead with our jaw set and think:

  • guns don’t kill people, people kill people and my desire to have weapons designed for killing people easily and in large numbers is a right as defined by the Founding Fathers
  • the people who guided the nation as it fell into stagnation, who didn’t see it coming and whose predictions have repeatedly failed will be the people who will guide us out of the challenges we are in
  • the wars overseas still have purpose
  • it is ok that many (not all) politicians who represent us don’t actually care or have any sense of urgency regarding the challenges facing us daily
  • the President elected on a platform of transparency and openness and who could wipe out all Republican and conspiracy resistance by coming clean should just stand his ground on principle no matter what the cost
  • ____ insert your own unexplainable / unjustifiable / hope-it-works-out-because-I-want-it-to wish here ____

need to stop and think for a moment and remember.

As with this driver this morning, it’s easy to stare straight ahead (or close our eyes), cross our fingers and expect “the other guy” to prevent a disaster or for things to just work themselves out.

This is not strategy – this is luck.

The problem is that the other guy may be doing the same thing, expecting you to prevent the problem.

And when everyone is waiting for everyone else to solve the problem, eventually we get unlucky.

Why would we leave the future of the great nation that embraces Lady Liberty in the hands of Lady Luck instead?

Optimism and hope for a better future are important traits to have.

But they only matter when based on facts, knowledge, respectful dialog and action – action that each of us should take instead of assuming that the other guy has our back.

Otherwise, optimism and reality collide …. sometimes painfully.


The guy in the truck was lucky.

However, we can’t count on luck to accidentally produce a positive future.


Let’s count on intelligent, proactive action and collaboration to create the positive future that our potential calls us to create.

Sowing the seeds for a better future is the easy part.

Visualizing the great harvest in the future is the fun part.

The work that takes place between those two points is the hard part.

Our future generations deserve the effort that is required of us to nurture that which we planted.

We deserve what we get if we do otherwise.

But do they?

In service and servanthood,


PS  Some of my colleagues on The Hill have shared rumblings with me of the possibility of domestic issues around the nation, anticipated to occur from late August, 2012 to early September, 2012 and between November, 2012 and February, 2013.  The details of these issues are allegedly classified.  That being said, how can we expect to produce better results in this great nation if we can’t be trusted to work together to build upon the vision of the Founding Fathers?  I guess in a situation like this, it comes down to luck …….. hopefully that’s not all it comes down to.

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