G-20, Gee Whiz

By Jim Selman | Bio

I am not an economist and I don’t know what to think about all the ‘unprecedented’ claims coming from the joint communiqué of the G-20 summit. I hope it works. But, hey, a trillion isn’t what it used to be! As a guy who has been around enough to be a little bit wary of political claims of bright horizons, I wonder if the world’s leaders are really united to correct past excesses and grease the financial system enough to restore confidence in the future.

After all, isn’t that what this is really about? I don’t mean just the repairing all the economic machinery, but ordinary people’s confidence in the future? Can our kids look forward to having children of their own with some expectation that they can raise them in a manner that is reasonably close to how they were raised? If we believe the pundits, the prospects are grim.  President Obama is doing his usual eloquent job of trying to be straight with the electorate and talk to them as reasonably intelligent adults, but is getting undermined at every turn by the same small-minded folks that brought the house down in the first place.

We’re all clear that there is too much debt and that we’re borrowing even more in the hopes of gaining enough breathing room to dig ourselves out of this pit. We’re being overwhelmed by media midgets interviewing each other and wringing their hands in despair one day and glee the next that someone or another has screwed up. We do not need more people ‘in the stands’ watching the world implode as if it was the Super Bowl. We need responsible media who are giving us stories of those who are making a difference and not more uncommitted and cynical commentary and devil’s advocacy.

The fact is we’re all being sold a story that keeps us being spectators of our own lives, rather than participants in creating the future. In other words, we’ve bought into a ‘self-fulfilling’ prophecy that is driven by fear and cynicism rather than possibility and promise. We elected Barack Obama because he offered leadership and hope at a time when American partisan politics had sunk to a new low and was taking us and our future with it. When my friends in other countries hear “AIG”, they say it stands for “Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed”. Our best friends agonize as they watch us struggle in much the same way we do when we must bear witness to someone we love becoming trapped in self-destructive behaviors.

For as long as I can remember, we elect our leaders and then sit back and see if they can deliver. This isn’t democracy—it is social and political voyeurism. I implore all of us to actively work to have our President succeed both nationally and internationally whether we agree with everything he is doing or not.

When our way of life was threatened by the Nazis in WW2, we all acted like “one nation under God” and set aside our petty differences. Today we are under a threat that is at least as grave. Let us stand united. Let us applaud for the Office, if not the man. Let us trust ourselves and our nation to have this crisis be a moment of truth and bring forth in each of us the very best of the American ‘character’. Let us show the world who we are.

The G-20 communiqué spoke of their actions as reflecting the beginning of a ‘new world order’. If so, it must be based on a commitment to make the world work for all of us. It must be based on acknowledging that we’re all in this planetary boat together. And it is up to you and me to stand together and do whatever it takes to make it work.

© 2009 Jim Selman. All rights reserved.

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