Let me share with you some observations for optimism.


Balancing Act: The Newsletter

(No. 258, February 2021)

Balancing act is in four sections this month:

  1. Techniques for Balance 
  2. The Human Condition: Virtual Courage
  3. Musings
Techniques For Balance

Observations for optimism 

  • Vaccines are increasing in the population.
  • There has been a legal transfer of political power.
  • Consumer savings are high, meaning….
  • Consumer spending will pick up significantly.
  • Reconciling social injustices will lead to stronger businesses and a more productive economy.
  • As restrictions ease, “covid cabin fever” will spur travel, entertainment, recreation.
  • Manufacturing is increasing (even Boeing has 737Max orders).
  • The second surge has passed in many places.
  • The stock market is showing huge optimism among investors.
  • More stimulus money has been approved.
  • Companies have greatly reduced expenses.
  • Weaker businesses have disappeared, leaving stronger competition.
  • Foreign relations will be improved.
  • Most of us have learned that masks are a small price to pay.
  • Holidays with remote family gatherings but not the stress of meals and arguments have been successful.
  • There is strength in having overcome adversity.
The Human Condition

I’ve never believed that a golf shot was “courageous,” as some of the overheated commentators often claim. I don’t think that making a speech is heroic, though it can be daunting and difficult.

I do believe that courage and heroism mean standing in harm’s way, which was a saying of the true naval hero, John Paul Jones (“I intend to sail into harm’s way….”) The comedian Bill Maher once infamously observed that the true heroes of 9/11 were the Islamic terrorists flying the planes into the World Trade Center because they knew they’d die. I don’t think murdering unsuspecting claims adjustors, financial analysts, secretaries, and mail room personnel is “sailing into harm’s way” or brave by any definition imaginable.

I once watched a tape of the often-satirized, often-reviled Prince Charles of England giving a lecture. A gunman entered and fired two shots at him. They turned out to be blanks, but Charles had no way of knowing that. He simply stood his ground, never tried to hide or scream for help. I’ve admired his bravery ever since.

We have a lot of arm-chair, virtual heroes who cite what others should have done at dangerous junctures, or what they would surely have done had they been there. That isn’t exactly a dangerous occupation. I watch firefighters race into burning buildings, and I’m not sure I could ever do that. They are the heroes who bravely marched up the stairs at the World Trade Center without allowing the risks to stop them. Every time a police officer shows up for duty it’s a brave act when you consider how many of them die in unforeseen circumstances.

For that matter, I think it takes a lot of courage to be a person of color today engaged in what many of us would think perfectly safe pursuits, like driving through town or being in a club. (Recently a white woman tackled a black teenager, accusing him of stealing her phone, which was later found in an Uber she had used.)

My father jumped out of low-flying cargo planes into Japanese guns in the jungles of New Guinea. It was a volunteer outfit. I guess a lot of people think they would have done the same. Think again.


The Capitol is not the Bastille.

The horror show at the Capitol last month was not an insurrection, which is marked by armed troops or revolutionaries. This was a mob rioting with insufficient police power to prevent them from penetrating the building.

The incitement for this action was dastardly and perhaps criminal, and was squarely at the feet of then-President Trump to encourage or discourage. I am an independent voter, but whatever your persuasion—Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, whatever—this was an unspeakable atrocity. Some of you may cancel your subscription over my comments, but they aren’t political, they are simply factual.

Leaders in any capacity should galvanize people and bring them together, coalescing disparate interest groups, reaching compromise, and above all creating fairness and justice. Those are our ideals in the US as well as in many other countries, though we (and they) have too often not lived up to them. But we try. We have to keep trying, and try harder.

The irony, of course, was that the people storming the building claimed to back “law and order.”

I believe that the decision after the vandalism began to let the energy wane and clear the place without an aggressive police action was intelligent, and reduced further violence. Prosecutions have begun as people are identified. I also believe that the comparisons to much more aggressive police tactics at Black Lives Matter and similar rallies are well supported.

A Black Lives Matter protest in the streets is a part of our tradition of protesting injustice. On the occasions those protests turned into riots and stores were robbed and property burned, they had become criminal endeavors. Protesting Joe Biden’s election is a matter of free speech, but trying to physically disrupt the government becomes a criminal act.

We need to separate and honor legitimate calls for social justice and reform from crazed conspiracy theories and demagoguery. This is my opinion for your consideration. If you don’t agree, that’s your right. If you choose to depart because of it, so be it.

The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility. —Martin Luther King, Jr.

Only Read This if You Know Me Well

I was backing out of a parking space at my gym when I noticed a wheelchair behind me displayed on the car’s TV screen, to my horror rolling toward me. I hit the break and spun my head around, but saw nothing, and was afraid I had knocked it over without even feeling anything in a 2.5-ton car.

When I looked at the camera gain, there it was: The photo of the handicapped parking logo for the space next to mine, which appeared to be moving because I was moving.

I am not making this up.

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© Alan Weiss 2021

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