Sliding Otter News April 21, 2012

Finding a Way to Survive and Prosper Together

A different world cannot be built by indifferent people

~Nelson Mandela~


A few days ago I read Andrew Foy’s e-book tract, You’ve Got to Stand for Something. Referring to John Locke and Thomas Jefferson, Foy describes the four original functions of the federal government: to provide security against foreign attacks, to manage our relationships with other countries, to maintain harmony and cooperation among the states, and to keep states from harming citizens.

In his view government has lost control of itself and has gone well beyond its original intent. He views most of the other roles of government as detrimental to business and the general welfare of our citizens. He thinks the government should get away from providing for its people and allow the goodwill of the wealthy to provide help for those who cannot care for themselves.

I finished the book wondering if what he proposes is possible. While there are wealthy philanthropists, others find that their wealth only driving them toward further wealth at all costs. If I had not been reading an e-book, I am sure I would have found tea stains on the pages.

Still mulling over this book, I attended a workshop called Coming of Age. Instead of focusing on becoming an adult, we considered the differences among various age groups such as traditional, baby boomers, and millennials. Surveys of older people indicated that seventy percent of them were willing to volunteer. Could Foy have been right? Is there enough volunteer spirit and generosity among our citizens to replace all of our social programs? I find it interesting to ponder but hard to imagine.

But it is not just social programs which strain our national budget. Our propensity to war and our worship of wealth and what it buys push us to the brink as well. We can idealize our founding fathers and the simpler ways, wishing to return to less complicated times. In doing so, we tend to overlook our shabby treatment of the natives who originally inhabited what has become American soil. We also forget the institutionalized slavery which formed a significant part of our early economy and treatment of immigrant groups.

I wonder what will become of our civilization. Will we collapse as many other once thriving cultures have done before us? Or will we somehow come to our senses and find a way to live with each other and for each other? Over the weekend I feared for us. Yesterday I grew more optimistic.

The polarization of our politicians suggests that they will not be much help bringing us together for our common good, at least in the near future. It seems we are on our own to discover the resources within us to secure health and prosperity in a way which does not bankrupt us. A scary proposition, but we have overcome many adversities as a country. Hopefully we have it within us to come through again.

Life Lab Lessons

  •  Are you optimistic or pessimistic about our future?
  • What do you think it would take to regain our course?
  • What can you contribute?
  • Discuss this problem with others.
  • Listen more than you talk.


My latest GO ART! Project is to bring Walter Butts to Batavia (5/19/2012) and Medina (5/20/12) for a reading, book signing and discussion of the writer’s life. Walter is a 1964 graduate of Le Roy High School, is well published and is currently the Poet Laureate of New Hampshire. Save the date if you will be in the area. I will include more detailed information in my next newsletter. If you can’t wait, visit after Tuesday, April 24.

To read more about Walter’s latest book and the theme of his presentation, see http://www.cherry-grove/butts,html.