Friday, October 10, 2008

Thoughtful commentary today coming out of Britain, from The Guardian newspaper. Here's an excerpt:
The world needs the United States to get over its cultural civil war, and get over it fast. Not that these moral, cultural and social issues are unimportant. They are among the most important things. But they are also among the most private things. The business of government and the law should be confined to providing a liberal (in the classical sense) framework in which men and women can make personal choices about private goods. That should be only a small part of what government does. By contrast, the central business of government is to provide public goods such as national and personal security, the regulation of markets in which private enterprise can flourish, the international development that is in all our national interests, and a clean environment using diversified, sustainable energy supplies. That's what the United States needs from its new president, and that's what the world needs from the United States.
Read the whole thing here.

I was impressed also by David Brooks' commentary on much of the same thing. The Republican party I began in has drifted, if the screed from the Palin/McCain rallies is any indication. I thought the Republicans were the party of high ideals, culture (in a good sense), and obviously healthy elitism. I formed this idea in my teens, as I was the first generation to be able to vote at age 18. The Dems, by contrast, were noisy, boisterous, a bit out of control. It seems to me that in this election, things have reversed. Read Brooks' words here. Of special interest to me was his narrative about interviewing Obama one evening and discussing Reinhold Niebuhr's thoughts on power. (Caveat: while the Huffington Post misquotes Brooks' words in their headline, it's the only easy source I have-- watch the video at the end to hear his thoughtful musings.) And his column today echoes much what of he said at the Atlantic luncheon (read it here.)

I'm almost ready for the trip. I was trying to finish up the last of the wash yesterday and came downstairs to a tub full of wet, drained clothes, but no spin. Water all over the floor. The neighbors came to the rescue in letting me use their washer, and I scheduled a repair man for the week I return.

As I thought about my washer breakdown, some courses of actions, or options, were limited: no more washing up the mop-up towels--let them hang-dry. No need to strip down the bed linens and wash those before leaving.

I unearthed an old article from my archives about choices and options. Here's a sample:

“Closing a door on an option is experienced as a loss, and people are willing to pay a price to avoid the emotion of loss,” Dr. Ariely says [author of Predictably Irrational, an entertaining look at human foibles like the penchant for keeping too many options open.] "In life, the costs are less obvious — wasted time, missed opportunities. If you are afraid to drop any project at the office, you pay for it at home.

“We may work more hours at our jobs,” Dr. Ariely writes in his book, “without realizing that the childhood of our sons and daughters is slipping away. Sometimes these doors close too slowly for us to see them vanishing.”

“I’m just as workaholic and prone to errors as anyone else,” he says.. “I have way too many projects, and it would probably be better for me. . . if I focused my efforts. But every time I have an idea or someone offers me a chance to collaborate, I hate to give it up.”
This idea bore in on me. Maybe it's time to go and escape from some responsibility and get a perspective on my options, my doors? Time to open some new ones? Time to let some old doors close?

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