Perspective: Let’s get personal.

Let’s not pretend that our perspective in Florida squares with the rest of our country.  Many of us, retired and living on fixed incomes have an easier time with a stay-at-home order than younger generations who are in their wealth building years.  Disadvantaged, poor and struggling workers are falling into an even deeper despair.

I continue to work because I feel I can still make a difference, impact my community and set an example for my kids.  I worry about non-profits that work tirelessly to support our beautiful community.

My perspective is of a father, grandfather and small businessperson.  My oldest son runs his own residential construction company in Denver.  His business is at a standstill and my grandson is now being schooled virtually.  My youngest son is a teacher and lives in Boston.  Just married, they were beginning the process of buying a home.  My in-laws live in Portugal. This may be the first year my wife doesn’t see her parents.  My business is off by 45%. I wonder how everyone else is doing.

If you were a ship at sea heading into a storm, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to avoid it?

We are witnessing how fragile and vulnerable we all are.  In an instant our world has turned upside down.  Technology has changed our lives in many beneficial ways.  The paradox is that the invasive spread of this virus is the result of the globalized world that technology has accelerated.

We need to acknowledge our vulnerabilities.  That requires perspective.  We need to adopt a holistic approach to consumption and problem solving.  Science alone will not do that.  While single focus begets expertise, the conundrum is that the expert sees the world through the lens of that discipline.  It is linear in thought.   Whereas, macro issues require a lateral thought process.  That is best suited for the generalist.  Not learned in an isolated discipline, the generalist, with advice from experts of all disciplines, thinks laterally, assessing the unintended consequences of a policy.  It is the reason the army  calls a general “General”.  The general’s commission is broad, army-wide, not tied to a unit or specialty.

What is happening today is not an accident.  Our leaders allowed our health care systems to be inadequately prepared.  Our supply chains have been outsourced to secretive and intolerant third world nations. Our independence and strength squandered.  For years there has been consistent scientific evidence as to the certitude of coming pandemics and the cause thereof.  See Dr. Michael Gerger, 2008 Video, hyperlink:

This is America. We have the wealth, ingenuity and capacity to anticipate and plan for crises.  Leadership must clearly and calmly communicate a vision and plan to earn the public’s collective trust.  This is not a partisan issue.

I am a Baby Boomer.  We’re the ones who let this happen.  If you grew up in Rhode Island, a son of parents of the Great Depression and World War II, you invariably began life Democratic.  I went to college at The George Washington University (GW), majored in Political Science.  A history buff, a political junkie, still am.  It was 1968/1969, I was 18 years old.  It was an exciting time to live in the nation’s capital.  Blocks from the White House, GW earned the nickname “Holiday Inn of the Revolution”. The Vietnam War, the King assassination and Holy Week Uprising, the Kennedy assassination, Chicago Democratic Convention, Black Panthers, Haight Ashbury Counterculture, Woodstock (I was there), Anti-War & Watergate Demonstrations (I was arrested).  But somewhere along the way the chants of, “Hell no I won’t go”, “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh”, “Don’t trust anyone over 30”,  “I hope I die before I get old” and, the ”flag burning” … it all became too much.   One day at GW, SDS occupied the Sino-Soviet Institute at Maury Hall.  Students demanded the University break ties with the military by ending ROTC.  I began to think of my father.

I loved my Dad.  A WWII veteran.  Wisest and best man I have ever known.  In the 60’s my Dad installed a flagpole, flying the American Flag in our front yard.  Most folks didn’t fly the flag then, considered a political statement.  People would ask, what’s with the flag?  My father would say, I like “THE COLORS” with no further explanation.

Sundays, before I went to college, everything was closed, due to “Blue Laws”.  So, we’d visit family.   The cousins would run from house to house.  Everyone lived close by.  We’d play whiffle ball in the street, muckle in the basement. Grandma Tillie had a huge pickle jar, stuffed with home-made pickles.  My Grandpa Sam, gassed and partially paralyzed from WWI would be lying on the sofa, big smile, handing out quarters as we ran through the house.  It was our normal.  A big extended family, everyone close.

Somewhere along the way we got lost.  We became the first generation not to respect, honor and listen to our elders.    We thought we knew best.  But we didn’t.  What was lost was wisdom.  The results are catastrophic.

In my Junior year at GW I began to pull back, limit my social circle and focus on my studies.  I graduated.  I went to Law School.  Got a job renting apartments.  Became a lawyer.  Went to work.  Got married.  Had kids.  And worked.  Have never stopped.  Don’t plan on stopping.

Common sense will always be my compass.  Certitude over uncertainty.  In 1798, Kentucky Resolutions, Thomas Jefferson said, “it would be a dangerous delusion were a confidence in the men of our choice to silence our fears for the safety of our rights …”.  There is no freedom, no life without risk.

When and how we re-open our country and get back to work is a life issue.  The choices we have today are not between physical and economic health.  They  are inseparable.  Our leaders must make inclusive policies with the counsel of experts from all disciplines.  The standard must be based on risk vs. reward.  Certainty of outcome must prevail over uncertainty.  Don’t misunderstand me, I am taking the recommended precautions, but I am pressing on.  America is the land of the free and the home of the brave.