EDITORIAL NOTE: As most of you are reading this, I am winging my way to Dearborn, Michigan, to attend a two-day “futuring and trend” conference for 100 bloggers sponsored by Ford Motor Company at their world headquarters.
Promising “interactive sessions featuring interesting expert futurists and key trend-spotters, and fun behind the wheel experience on the track,” it is a packed two days.
Among the presenters are Malcolm Gladwell on looking for the “subtle, hidden and unspoken” in life; Ed Begley on eco-friendly lifestyles; Dr. Stewart Wang on the future of car safety which, I hope, will include thoughts on helping elders drive safely for longer; and Carol Orsborn on adult development beyond mid-years.
Ford is paying for transportation, food and accommodations. According to the agenda, I won’t have much time for this blog, but I’ve prepared daily posts for you for the rest of this week and I’ll check in when I can. Next week, I’ll report back to you on what I learn at the conference.
I meant to write this follow up to last week’s Republican Agenda rant for Monday, but on Friday, AARP’s support for Social Security cuts took precedence, so that’s what you got. Now, I can get back to this.
First, a housekeeping note. I redacted two comments on that story last Thursday for advocating crime and violence. I’m pretty sure those two people just got carried away with understandable anger and fear and I empathize with that. But let’s all watch our language as the election season heats up.
In case you missed it last week, the most recent fright news (aside from AARP’s new stand on Social Security) is that the housing crisis – however these things are measured – is now worse than it was in the Great Depression and still sinking. One more item added to a three-year-long list of bad economic news that leads to the kind of widespread fear for the future voiced in many comments on this blog.
I have no doubt that a good part of my rant was a reaction to my own sickening fear for the future as I consider the Republican acts that got us into our nation’s epic mess and listen to the same party’s demands for drastic cuts to or elimination of programs that are the only things standing between many people and hunger or homelessness. Many elders live on less than $10,000 a year; they depend on services that Congress wants to cut.
Here are two or three thought exercises for you.
First, contrast Republicans insistent demands to dramatically lower taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals with their refusal – individually and collectively – to acknowledge the nation’s widespread suffering. In their public statements it is as though all of America is doing as well as Wall Street CEOs. That’s a lot of cognitive dissonance – and more fear – for the rest of us.
Now think for a moment of Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats during the Great Depression and his reassuring dictum, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
Also recall King George and Queen Elizabeth who remained living in Buckingham Palace during the London Blitz even through nine direct hits from German bombs, along with their regular walkabouts among the people huddled in underground shelters during bombing raids.
These leaders understood that their positions required them, whatever their private fear and doubt, to support and inspire the people to find the courage to endure through terrible times of daily dread.
What do we have now in America’s time of need? A Marie Antoinette moment from the wealthiest person running for the Republican nomination for president, when last week Mitt Romney told a group of jobless Americans that he, too, is unemployed.
Joke? No. It was more of the same tone deafness to the country’s woes. Romney’s breathtaking elitism coupled with AARP’s announcement last Friday and every Republican politician’s determination to further impoverish the American people makes me gasp. With fear. For all of us.
Here is my point: No politician should ever, ever scare the crap out of the people. Leaders used to know that. No politician who does scare the crap out everyone can be defined as a leader. No politician who scares the crap out of us should ever be elected to public office.
Is there no potential leader in America who will level with us, take the hard road against his or her corporate underwriters to represent we the people and lead us out of the deepening sinkhole we are in? I’m exhausted from feeling sick from fear and being helpless to change anything.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Steve Kemp: Surprise