Courage

After an absolutely ugly political campaign season, the electorate have weighed in and the result is stunning to me.

So stunning, that I have been more or less comatose for two days. I will allow myself one snarky comment, “Being comatose seems to put me right in the main stream of the electorate.”

Confronting the kinds of issues that face this country and the world at large takes enormous courage. Confronting my reaction to this election is taking a great deal of courage.

In 2002, I started teaching at Fordham University thanks to the good graces of a friend and colleague who was a Department Chair. At that time in my life, I was struggling to deal with a divorce, a failing company that I had started and that the bursting Internet bubble had taken out, the arrival of coronary artery disease, and my recovery from coronary artery bypass surgery.

My perception was that the world was done with me. My services were no longer needed. Just go away. I was looking for work but being 59 years of age and seriously sick made me a less than super candidate. At a professional society lunch one day, a friend from Fordham and I discussed me teaching the core Information Technology course in their MBA program.

I did and it saved my life. It took courage to do but it also gave me courage.

All these years later, my teaching has expanded to include many institutions and many business topics. I love my relationship with my students and the opportunity to continue to learn. If you can’t learn; you can’t teach. I have focused on these business topics in the larger context of sustainability.

This passion for sustainability has woven itself in and around numerous posts in this blog. It has also woven itself around my being.

Seeing so many tax and spend politicians elected this cycle, has left me completely without air. These behaviors are not sustainable. Less is the key, not more.  We need Prosperity Without Growth as Tim Jackson discusses in his book, titled the same.

The nation is now on a path to four more trillion dollar plus deficits. Driving the debt to near $20 trillion dollars. Now, just how is that sustainable? Everyone wants their goodies from free birth control to high speed trains. Both seem eminently silly to me and not on the path to sustainability.

Thinking that moving government closer to the people which necessitates the moving of much  governance to the state and local level is critical to sustainability, I am simultaneously distressed by my state, New Hampshire’s,  pendulum swing from fiscally prudent folks to the “we must restore those funds” folks. The prudent ones brought the state budget back to a truly balanced budget as required by state law after their predecessors, now back in power, had done their “balancing” with budgetary tricks and borrowing.

This is not sustainable.

Unsustainable spending will not address the many complex problems that need to be addressed. To address them takes courage that is not present in this immediate gratification crowd. The problems are big, complex, and many. For just one angle see, the Tax the Rich post that precedes this one.

For many years in my big company business experience I met more and more “bad” people, as I climbed the corporate ladder. I was a small town New Englander blessed with a set of basic values. Thanks Mom and Dad.

In the intense pressure of big corporate life, those values were often challenged and I did not win all of those internal struggles. The challenges often came at the hands of the “bad” folks. Those who would say and do anything to advance themselves. The company was only important to them as a vehicle for their own success, not the company’s, not the customers, not their co workers, not the shareholders, not the planet. This was completely antithetical to what my Dad had taught me.

As I look out over the great sea of politicians who have now secured power, I see many who have the same characteristics as these “bad” people. This has made all of this very personal for me. Now, I am not naive and I get that there will always be people like this, but guess what… It is not sustainable.

A colleague speaks of sustainability as flourishing. This requires all to flourish, not just the few. There are those that would say that taking from the few for the benefit of the many is meeting the flourishing goal. If the unkempt crowd of young folks gathered in our local park with their babies, free cell phones, cigarettes, drugs and booze paid for with their EBT (electronic benefit transfer) card, is flourishing, we have done something terribly wrong.

We now seem to be solidly on the path of repeating that mistake many times over. At the same time, we will teach great dependence. We will subjugate.

I just overheard a conversation between a young man and a college professor sitting near me at the coffee shop. The young man is interested in doing “something” in sustainability. He just said, “You don’t get any money for doing that, I want to do… where there is funding.” What happened to earning a living?

So, where to go from here? I still am not sure…

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