It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they have, thus far, so nobly carried on. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
– The Hay copy of what is believed to be the second draft of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
We can’t go on ignoring inequality, because we have the means to destroy our world but not to escape it.
It’s time to stop complaining and to start a smiling campaign to ask ourselves what we can do to make the world a better place. We can’t rely on Prince Charming to swoop in and save us because – at least for the next four years, discounting major surprises – he won’t be making any guest appearances.
My wife used the end of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address to describe her mood after the November election. Meanwhile, as Steven Hawking said, we don’t have much choice but to deal with our problems.
I’ve spent my life thinking of the US as a great country – one that has no need of a champion to “make America great again,” but that is not because we are the greatest country in the world; based on almost every socio-economic indicator, we most certainly do not hold that honor.
Here are some important measures; you can go to the original references to figure out what goes into these indicators:
|Social Progress Index
|Basic human needs
|Foundation of well being
If one goes back to the history of similar indicators it is difficult to find support for the “again” aspect of Donald Trump’s motto.
I have no idea what the new administration will try to do; indeed, at the moment I am not sure that Trump himself knows what he wants to do. He won the election on a promise of change. With the exception of badly needed investment in infrastructure, though, such a departure translates to me as recipe for destruction, not building.
Whether or not America can accurately claim to be “greatest nation on Earth,” it does rank as one of the richest. The US is #9 in GDP per capita (PPP). It is also among the most resilient nations. Here are the top 10 countries listed in this category:
- United States Region 3 – Midwest
I have no idea why the American Midwest is listed as a country but it’s amazing to see the extent to which Europe monopolizes this list. Regardless of these metrics, I firmly believe that America holds the top spot for resiliency. I’m sure that the next four years will provide an important test of my opinion.
As I mentioned before, we don’t really know what kind of president Donald Trump will turn out to be. My own expectations are low but they are only based on his election campaign – on what he promised to do – or to be more precise, on what he promised to undo (almost everything).
I fully realize that whatever promises he made, his one objective was to win the election. It worked. A safe starting assumption is that as he tries to fulfill his election promises he will begin to understand the obstacles in his way. Given that he has surrounded himself with many people who have an equal lack of experience in governing, they will have to navigate as best they can. I, along with almost everybody else that I know, wish him the best of luck with that. That is my largest New Year resolution.
My biggest fear is the concept of risk that he brings with him. A business failure that translates into a tax deduction for the owner and the loss of jobs for his employees is a world apart from a failure to understand an adversary’s intentions to use nuclear weapons. Miscomprehension of the disastrousness of nuclear weapons could far too easily lead to accidentally committing global suicide.
It is true that not all presidents come equipped with a comprehensive understanding of the risks associated with being Commander in Chief and the post’s responsibility over our nuclear powers. Somehow, at least for me, Donald Trump invokes a larger degree of uncertainty than most.
In future blogs I will narrow my scope back to issues of climate change and try to avoid speculating about the President Elect’s policies, instead limiting myself to discussing his actions as they pertain to my subject. Specifically, I will continue my examination of grassroots mitigation efforts on a global scale as well as their potential collisions with top-down efforts.
In the meantime, Happy New Year, everyone!