The Occasional Perspective - 12/4/23

Opinions and Reflections

The Health Of The World – As we enter the annual holiday period, it’s always a time of reflection. From my perspective it’s been a rough couple of months. I usually discuss the health of the community and how we can improve it. However, it seems that we also need to consider the health of the world. First, there was the invasion of Ukraine by Russia that started the day after my birthday on February 24, 2022, then there was the Hamas incursion into Israel with the equally aggressive incursion into Gaza as a response of the Israeli military, and then in Maine we had the mass shooting in Lewiston. I then had the opportunity to travel to France for a meeting and we decided to spend a bit of time in Paris. While there, we walked all over the city only to come upon a protest of more than 100,000 people who marched through the city in protest against rising antisemitism that has raised its ugly head in the wake of Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza. It was a striking protest because of the nature of it. There were no shouts, there were no chants, there were no signs. It was a protest of more than 100,000 people walking in silence through the main streets of Paris. It evoked considerable emotion as we watched – in silence – as the seemingly endless stream of people walked by…it was attended by representations of multiple parties both left, centrists and conservatives as a call to rise up against “the unbearable resurgence of unbridled antisemitism.” As one 67-year-old man in the march put it, “It's a march against violence, against antisemitism, against all (political extremes) that are infiltrating the society, to show that the silent majority does exist.”

I – like many of you – am increasingly concerned about the state of our country, of all the nations among the nations of the world – and, of the world, more generally. It occurs to me that it is time for “the silent majority” to speak up – for the health of the world!! If we don’t, the extremes on either side of the equation will capture the bullhorn and control the discourse. Then, I listened to a Ted Radio Hour presentation by Barbara Walter, Ph.D, (not the TV personality) a Professor of Political Science at the University of California at San Diego. Her assessment is captured in the following segment that…

All Democracies Are Fragile – The podcast [AN ABSOLUTELY MANDATORY “LISTEN”) starts off with notes on the fact that we are facing more civil wars around the world than at any previous time in the recent history. As a result of this analysis, the USA Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) convened a research group of civil war experts and information analysts to collaborate in identifying the major factors for the preponderance of civil wars throughout the world. Two factors were identified based on the group’s work. The first factor was the formation of an anocracy or, a “partial democracy”. The example given in the Ted Talk was the current Hungarian democracy where elections are held but where the opposition is jailed, the media controlled, and societal information managed by the existing power. The second identified factor was the presence of social conflicts between self-identified groups e.g. Black vs. White, Catholic vs. Protestant, Democrat vs. Republican and the like. It’s where the extremes of both sides are trying to control the social narrative.

But, the analysis showed that there was one country missing from the analysis. Guess which one? Yes, of course – the United States of America.  It was noted that in 2016 there was an economic downgrade by all the major banks in the world due to problems with the election monitors and concerns that the elections were free but not fair. Second, in 2019 the White House refused to hand over information on the election. And, in 2020, the White House actively tried to overturn the results of the elections. These three events would have placed the USA on the watch list; however, the CIA cannot do any work inside the United States so the researchers simply took note of the fact that the USA is at risk but not on the list. Now…that was a disturbing podcast to hear as well.

So, it seems that the health of the nation is in need of preventive maintenance as well. I suspect that the answer lies in the vast majority of silent voters to take note, speak up, and support a different direction. The major looming question is whether or not we will do that…

Where We Get Our Information – A recent report in Axios is also a bit disturbing because it seems – from my perspective – to support the notion that society has experienced a loss in the sense of “community”. The study – conducted at Northeastern University – projects that by the end of 2024 about one-third (1/3) of the 8,891 newspapers in the USA will have been lost. In addition, more than 80% of the newspapers published in the USA are weekly and not daily. The essence of the study is that we are increasingly reliant upon fewer sources of information – especially news about our community, the people and the places we know. So, the question is: Are we losing our sense of community? Couple this question with the above information on the projection of civil wars throughout the world and we have the nidus for a major problem emanating from the embers of discontent that exist throughout the USA…

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