One of Twain’s best lines states this, ““Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” When a President recognizes a problem before he begins, then he has solved half the problem before stepping one foot on the oval office carpet. He also said if you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything. Honesty and sincerity with intelligence spiced with a sense of humor–imagine the possibilities. Mark Twain would have been a great president because he would have given entertaining press conferences. He also would have taken the job seriously enough but also laughed at the absurdity of it all.
Benjamin Franklin was an outstanding writer, diplomat and forward thinker. He said, “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” Based on the written material concerning Franklin’s work and exploits in Britain and France during America’s struggle for independence, he would have been effective dealing with world leaders.
The wife of John Adams was extremely intelligent and more politically savvy than her husband. In another time and another age, she would have had a chance to show the world what she could achieve. As it was, her advice to her husband during private conversations likely kept him from alienating even more people. She said once, “I’ve always felt that a person’s intelligence is directly reflected by the number of conflicting points of view he can entertain simultaneously on the same topic.” I think she was on to something there that applies toward today’s political environment.
She would have intimidated all of the world leaders. She would have known exactly what to say and to whom at the right moment. She would have been perfect.
6. Walt Disney
He knew how to run a business and build a world—Disney World. Where did Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev want to go when visiting Los Angeles in 1959? Disneyland. He wasn’t able to go due to security concerns which upset him greatly. As president he could have used the trip to Disneyland or Disney World as his trump card. I can hear it now, “Agree to this or no trip to the magic kingdom.”
If you see a malcontent, discontent, dissident or an activist fighting for a cause on the world stage, you’ll likely see someone or some power base trying to stop it, quell it or ignore it.
Turkish protestors are news today with more clashes with the government. The demonstrations are seen as protests against the conservative President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against secular Turks. Erdogan is being accused of forcing his Islamic views on a segment of the Turkish population. Islamic conservatives and secular politicians have long battled for government control and the best way to run a country with an overwhelming Islamic population. Situated at the edge of the European land mass and the Middle Eastern Territory, the Turkish people have fought for their religious identity while trying to be part of the European Union and culture.
Demonstrations, protests, marches, and riots usually begin with peaceful sit-ins and marches but soon escalate to violence and mayhem. Some of these achieve results while others are just the beginning of a longer struggle. Depending on where you sit at the table, one person’s terrorist, radical, guerilla, and rebel is another’s freedom fighter and force for change. After all, the United States revolution began with a peaceful protest.
Here are the top eight that we noticed.
1. Hungarian Uprising of 1956-The Soviet Union tanks rolled into Budapest after the Hungarian leadership informed Moscow that they were leaving the Warsaw Pact. This act fueled Soviet leaders to send in the tanks. Thousands were killed during the crackdown and its aftermath.
2. UK Miner’s Strike and early US Union Strikes -Worker’s unions in the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere fought corporate abuse to increase wages, improve working conditions and work schedules. The passing of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act) significantly aided unions to recruit and negotiate with corporate management.
3.Freedom Riders-1961-The Freedom Riders climbed in the bus, drove through the South, and more importantly, had the courage to get off the bus when the welcome party was unfriendly.
4.Antiwar Protests-From Vietnam to the Iraq War, when talk fails another tool of diplomacy takes form. An instrument in a country’s diplomatic tool bag is the strength of its military– Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force. Whether it be two people or two countries fighting, someone is likely against the idea no matter how noble the cause.
5.Tiananmen Square-1989-Who can forget the lone protestor standing in front of the tank line, moving left to right as the tank moved. Later, the brutal crackdown at the square displayed government power for all the world to see on news channels across the globe. The final chapter for this hasn’t been written yet.
6. 1968 Democratic Convention-The news networks aired the violence for the world to see. Riots in the Chicago streets served Republican nominee Richard Nixon well. The media savvy Chicago Seven knew cameras would be rolling and the networks broadcasting while the city police forced people into paddy wagons. The whole affair alarmed Middle America and put an exclamation point on the terrible year of 1968 when Senator Robert Kennedy and Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., were assassinated.
7.Polish Solidarity Movement-1980s-The Solidarity movement forced the communist government to the table to negotiate with the country’s labor force. Another brick was removed from the Berlin Wall.
8.Wounded Knee-1973-The American Indian Movement clashed with the Federal Government and lives were lost. The past repeats.
Whether the many or the few, failure to compromise with the opposing view will result in the beaten down using the power of numbers and the force of the media.
From the moment you become aware of yourself as a human being, the truth begins to modify your behavior. What is the truth?
Control, or lack thereof. We realize at an early age during adolescent cognitive development that, although you may have control over when you close your eyes, your parents dictate when you crawl into bed.
As a person matures into an adult, they begin to understand that many people control their lives. Some of these are high school attendance times, sports practice times, who is first string and who isn’t, college fraternities, corporate hiring and maybe even when to retire. You can also choose to not follow the accepted rules or laws but these mavericks tend to be either shunned or made an example by being ostracized or incarcerated. Control means power and power is control. Some people get it through wealth and others get it by office or status. Some use one to get the other. When someone on the news programs mentions that an official or citizen speaks “Truth to Power.” What it really means is “Truth to a greater truth.” Certain Truths are flexible while everyone recognizes Power when it comes for payment.”
So, who has control and why? The Government and Religion. Those are two monoliths of control that many people do not try to fight against. If you do challenge them, you may win but the consequences and price may be enough to second guess your decision. The following is a study comparing these two bastions of control.
Many theories exist as to why people formed religious beliefs. A widely held concept states that religion helped people cope with fear and gave them a sense of control over their haphazard environment. When people began to realize that their lives were finite and that their sense of the earthly world would end, the practice of religion began to take shape and help people cope with what comes after. The daily tribal existence and group living depended on team work so that food and could be gathered, shelters built, and society fluent so that the clan or community could continue to thrive.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs begins with the Psychological, food, sleep, and health at the bottom. It then poses that safety is the next need, getting shelter away from the dangers of nature. The next couple of needs play into both government and religion but especially the spiritual side. The psychological need for belonging to a group and receiving love and affection is purely emotional and can be strong. The other important need but toward the point of the pyramid is self-esteem and esteem from others. The need for respect, value and approval from others plays into controlling people within the community. The last need at the point is self-actualization or achieving your maximum potential. Keeping these pyramid of needs in mind, a set of belief systems along with a priest, priestess, appointed or elected head of the belief system goes a long way toward controlling and keeping order.
With sets of rules to govern behavior, fertility and other aspects of tribal and community life, the control and power was firmly in place and remains to this day. As religion grew and power was taken by force or given by acceptance, religions came to understand that to deal with the other power base, government, other power tools had to be used, money and politics. So the merger and blurring of the religious and government lines is understandable. Many leaders have seen the corruption of both and have tried to separate them by trying to keep religion on one side of the community aisle and government systems on the other.
One observation about religion. For something that seems so personal, there are many who need to practice their belief system among large groups of like-minded people.
Government systems formed to provide services that the individual could not provide. They have been responsible for building roads, providing health care, providing security, developing educational institutions and funding science and medical advances.
There is a huge trade-off for these services. The power of the government to tax the citizens. In addition to that power, they also have the authority to punish individuals, corporations and other entities who don’t pay taxes. Governments inflict several forms of control over lives. For example, the permission to drive based on taxes, registration, license, and tolls. One truth also applies to governments, they almost always get larger and more bureaucratic as they develop. With more government comes more laws-federal, state and local. With more laws at each level, the public has less freedoms and less control.
What is the answer? Well, anarchy isn’t the solution. Restraint with laws and regulations while re-assessing government’s role in taxing and ruling over every aspect of our lives can be the way forward. It’s good to have some rules to govern and believe in but not at the expense of freedom and lack of control. A government’s job is to provide national security and provide essential services. It should not control every part of our lives. Think about that every time you drive on a toll road or cross a bridge with a toll.