George Bush has begun his career as a motivational speaker. Even by charging about what the local cinema charges for tickets to see Zombieland ($19) and adding in speakers like Colin Powell, Zig Ziglar still has tickets left. Apparently the number of people wanting to know how to sell war for all the wrong reasons is not that big. I find this oddly consoling.
Pat Buchanan reports that white Americans over the age of 30, asked to choose which institution they believe in, say "none." Presumably, this is not belief in the sense of existence, like when someone believes in God. This is belief in the efficacy or intention of institutions.
Not to jump on the racist bandwagon, but one can appreciate whites' frustration with institutions. Believing the propaganda from every side, whites are told they are the privileged and yet there is little sense of control over their lives - even a form of anomie. Blacks and Latinos know that racism explains a great deal of their feelings of alienation; whites are more confused, in the same way that the most popular kid in high school can't understand why he feels lonely. When you are supposed to be the in group, it is disorienting to feel on the outs.
Rather than turn to guns or racism - as Pat would seem to suggest - it seems worth turning to the very institutions towards which the polled expressed such dismay.
There are at least two elements to this. One has to do with better managing systems, actually applying advice from gurus like Peter Drucker, W. Edwards Deming, Russell Ackoff,and Peter Senge. Institutions are, in part, distrusted because they are so poorly managed. Two, creating trust in institutions will require a dispersal of control to the people whose lives are so defined by them. We may not like it that employees want more quality of work life or families want more religion in their children's schools, but local control leads to a sense of ownership, more learning, and greater satisfaction.
Whites are probably more likely to feel disenfranchised by a lack of control but everyone would benefit from it.
And speaking of race and local control, how about allowing a justice of the peace to refuse to marry an inter-racial couple? Or letting a pharmacist refuse to give out morning after drugs?
On first blush, this is almost like allowing conscientious objectors to refuse to fight. But there is a very real difference: no one drafts pharmacists or a justice of the peace. We wouldn't allow a volunteer soldier to join and then become a conscientious objector. If you are a justice of the peace, you marry people. If you are a pharmacist, you dispense prescribed drugs. No one is forcing you to be a pharmacists or justice of the peace. You are free to quit. Meanwhile, it seems absurd to let someone decide whether or not any one person or type of person is deserving of your service.
A lot of fuss has been made over Obama's receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize. I joined in the chorus of "What? Why?" when he got it, but it is a reminder of just how relieved the world is that Bush is gone. If peace is the absence of war, maybe the Nobel Prize committee felt rushed to reward him before he sent more troops anywhere for any reason - as American Presidents are wont to do. Maybe if one wants to reward American presidents for peaceful tendency it is best to do that in the first few months of their presidency?