Please Join Me Under One Flag

This July 4th, let’s declare our unity by reclaiming our independence.

I am one of those stubborn political independents who believe that solving problems is more important than winning ideological fistfights, and I deplore politicians whose interest is limited to being a cult leader’s toady. I believe in empowering people to achieve their objectives, rather than oppressing others and bending them to the will of my particular beliefs. I have learned to see Americans as neither Republican nor Democrat, nor any of the other meaningless and often dangerous ways we try to classify people to break them down and treat them differently. Mine is a learned (and often dismissed) disposition in a political system that otherwise demands group affiliation. On the surface, it seems easier to classify people to wage a desired political agenda and affect public policy but, today, it often just inflames conflict and compromises success—especially at the national level. Perhaps it’s just my advancing maturity, but I find little affirming value in belonging to groups, and I wish folks would wave just one flag: the American flag, without changing its colors. Until and when we rally around one flag—with one set of colors: red, white and blue—we will continue on our current course: flirting with authoritarianism in the face of a democracy in chaos. Meanwhile, our adversaries throughout the world lick their chops. Our disunity is their opportunity.

The prevailing mindset in America today is Us vs. Them. Try and find a group today that is not beset by this condition. The other prevailing characteristic many groups share is that they believe they are the exception—that they conscientiously subscribe to inclusive consensus-building practices. But spend more than five minutes in their group discussions and the Us vs. Them mentality quickly percolates to the surface. It is astonishing how fast it rises and equally astonishing how blind participants are to its existence. And don’t dare call them out; you will be banished in a heartbeat. They are like alcoholics who believe that everyone but them are drunks; claimed with cocktail in-hand. As a scholar, I have studied the effects of Us vs. Them righteousness and certitude that historically emanated from organized religions—especially monotheistic religions. I have traced and illustrated religion’s effects on American foreign policy. However, in the last ten years or so, politics has supplanted religion as the locus of righteousness and certitude. There is no need to trace religion to politics; today, politics is religion.

My parents taught me that to exclude people in politics—or any other persuasive endeavor—is foolish if you want to win. Political parties call this the “Big Tent Strategy”; something they give lip service to when attempting to feign inclusion. Candidates today love to judge, shame, and condemn others in a feeble attempt to bolster their standing—especially with donors. They rarely address the needs of their constituents. To me, we are all just humans trying to find a secure, predictable, and fulfilling path to live our lives. Many would call me an outlier, and I […]

By |June 26th, 2022|Categories: Current, General, Leadership|Tags: , , |

Chasing Life

Some years ago, when I did occasional consulting for businesses, I was tasked with assisting a wealth management company in composing a new long-term strategic plan. The fundamental question of any enterprise is, why are we here? Why do we matter? Why should anyone care? Why, why, why. As you might expect, wealth management firms live in a hyper-quantitative world. If it can’t be measured in dollars, or numbers related to dollars, it didn’t matter. […]

By |June 19th, 2022|Categories: General, Recent|Tags: , , |

Summer of ???

Summer evenings when the heat breaks, breezes flow, and the sounds of softball in the park drift throughout the avenues beneath the freshly-greened boughs of maples and elms and cottonwoods are America at its best.  In the long days of summer, the sun sets with a sense of stubbornness unlike winter when it sinks even before the family dog has been fed her supper. I live where seasons matter, or at least I think so, […]

By |June 7th, 2022|Categories: General, Leadership|Tags: , , , |

Finding Home

The concept of home is perhaps the most comforting of any we summon when we feel the need for safety and comfort and the nurturing presence of others we regard as family. In past American generations, home was a given: it was where you grew up then grew old. It was immutable. It was a place one could neither choose for or against; it just was. Seasons changed and generations passed, but home was home.

My […]

By |May 22nd, 2022|Categories: General|Tags: , , |

Dissonance, Disequilibria & Power

“What the hell is going on with (fill in the blank)?” is a question I have heard (and myself asked) often in the last few years. There may be a shortage of computer chips, childcare, housing, rental cars, and building materials, but there is no shortage of things that just don’t make sense. When our expectations are met by realities that are wildly discordant, anxiety flourishes and leaders scramble. It is very hard to fix […]

By |May 10th, 2022|Categories: General, The New Realities|Tags: , |

America’s Secret Sauce: Self-determination

The last five years have produced what forbearing historians, muttering their observations from the comfort of overstuffed club chairs, might call a generational setback, even while it may feel more like a catastrophic collapse in the moment. Between the Covid-19 pandemic and the rise of violent authoritarianism, the health and the general welfare of our civilization have suffered tremendous blows. Recovery will be slow and arduous. Globalization, which had been underway for thirty years, has […]

By |April 29th, 2022|Categories: General, Recent|Tags: , , , , |

The Dynamic Duo: Empathy and Dignity

Years ago, when I worked in the corporate world, the most valued executives were the turnaround artists. Those who could see things as they were, and then as they should be, without being blinded by entrenched legacy thinking. This skill-set enabled them to strip out the anchors—both big and small—that were causing the enterprise to drift, or worse, sink. Clarity, both in terms of vision and focus—coupled with simplicity—were often all that was needed to […]

By |April 12th, 2022|Categories: Donald Trump, General, Leadership|Tags: , , , , |
Go to Top