2021 Theme: Eternal Truths for Simple Coaches
Title: “A Pandemic of Words”
…Why Benjamin Franklin was Right
Words: “Coach” Gary Micheloni
Note from ‘Coach Gary’: As we celebrate Independence Day of 2021, we rejoice over many things, yet are saddened by others. Let me begin with the ‘sad’ so that we can end with the joy, which is where most people of our country choose to live. God bless the USA!
There’s a throw-away phrase that many commentators often use when discussing an article written by a reporter: “Talk about burying the lead!” Generally what’s meant is that instead of a writer including as a headline the main idea of a story, he begins with info of secondary importance, bringing it up later so that it just kind of ‘pops up’ unexpectedly and smacks the reader. It would be like a sportswriter fully describing yesterday’s game and then, about the next to last paragraph, finally saying who won and the score. You get the idea.
So, I will begin at the beginning and disclose that my title was not created by me. Instead, it inserted itself into a simple conversation I was having. As my wife, Karen, and I was discussing the sordid events, the coarseness of dialogue, the verbal assassinations, and over-the-top insults and accusations which seem to predominate public discourse these days, she came to a startling conclusion. She said something like, there is such “a pandemic of words” these days!
Her comment staggered me. I asked her to repeat it, to make sure I heard it correctly, so she laid it out again. Perfectly joining the main search term of the past year, ‘pandemic’, with the current effort to hurt and discredit people and ideas—not by discussing them—but by shouting them down with vile words which now seem to have lost or changed their original meaning. ‘A pandemic of words.’ Simultaneously both perfect, yet tragic.
My mission today is simple: helping all of us regain and retain our sanity as I attempt to explain what is going on. Hang in there!
In the media these days we are often reminded of the quote from Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. A woman asked him what kind of a government we were getting. He uttered his famous reply, “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.” Franklin was prophetic. He foresaw the difficulty of maintaining a republic, that it could break down over time. We have been witnessing just that. People clamoring for democracy, yet secretly working for mob rule. Their mob!
If you’ve never read George Orwell’s ‘1984’, this is the time to do so. Written in 1949, a fear of ‘Big Brother’ seemed almost over-the-top. Hard to imagine. In 1945 we were given by him in ‘Animal Farm’ the fictitious political viewpoint that, while all animals are equal, ‘…some animals are more equal than other animals.’ Couldn’t happen, right? Ha! We seem to have stumbled into both of those worlds.
You know, in the beginning, Congress was to be a deliberative body—to discuss and consider the issues of the day. Today, it has become a high-stakes sporting event. Team D vs Team R, with both teams voting in a bloc, at almost every vote. Our ideal of a republic has been corrupted into a majority rule.
Let me help you to see this. Here’s a mental image of Congress that I hope sticks in your mind, much like the way lyrics of a bad song become an earworm you can’t stop hearing: There are two teams, R’s and D’s, out in a park, playing a game, throwing the frisbee, but instead of the familiar children’s toy, they are using dinner plates. Not just any dinner plates—that would be bad enough. No! They are using your dinner plates—that elegant set of china that your family has owned and handed down for several generations. Intended for the private enjoyment of your family, it was taken by people who came into your home and grabbed it for their own pleasure.
Two problems: first, the players were not very skilled at tossing the frisbee, little success but lots of drops, not caring if anything got broken, because they had an unlimited supply of fine dinnerware, thanks to you, and also courtesy of the china cabinets of your neighbors down the street and others elsewhere in your city. They were careless and did not value your treasures. More, they seemed to really love the sound of breaking plates.
Second, they complained about the way dinnerware apparently breaks upon impact with the ground, which of course, they believe to be our fault. An investigation was ordered. A new cabinet position (aptly named) created to mandate standards for the way dinnerware frisbees are to be manufactured, then updated the rules of the game along with the types of helmets, masks, pads, and other, now-required protection for properly playing the game.
Absurd? From where I sit, here in the belly of the beast of California, my neighbors and I are witnessing the actual feeding of the beasts! One example, the so-called ‘Bullet Train’, where billions have already been expended to facilitate the movement of people from one rural city to another, yet billions more are projected because of the need to tunnel through the mountains (what could go wrong there?) My prediction is that sometime soon the excavation will encounter pieces of broken plates!
I was at church yesterday (as I write this) where we celebrated Memorial Day to begin the service. Everyone stood, hands over hearts, as the color guard carried and then posted the flags. We sang ‘My Country ‘tis of Thee’. It was touching. For me, it was hard to sing and not be choked up over words like:
Sweet land of liberty…
Land where my fathers died…
Let freedom ring!
Land of the noble free…
Thy name I love…
Our fathers’ God to Thee,
Author of Liberty…
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King!
These days…even those sacred and precious words are attacked, often by the nameless, the shameless, and the anonymous. The cowards!
Some of you out there are asking what all of the above has to do with our construction industry. Let me remind again the quote by Edmund Burke, and others, who said ‘the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ Now, couple that with the very infamous words of Martin Niemoller, commenting on WWII, that evil men first came for this group and then for that group and later, other groups, but nobody ever said anything. Realize that, eventually, they’re coming for you: your property rights, the right to run or manage a business, and, of course, your right to freedom of speech. We’re witnessing that today. It directly impacts our industry, family, community, and country.
Some who have never studied history would flippantly discard rights guaranteed to us by our Constitution, simply because they were granted by God—not a government. In fact, they’d like to shred that document and start over. Their pandemic of words is coming squarely at all of us for that purpose. That’s the bad news.
But there is good news. Just like the pandemic, itself, the news of its destructive power is overblown. Only a fraction of one percent of our country’s population died from covid, but you’d swear it was more like 30%, based upon the drumbeats in the news. Also overblown is the perceived importance of threats to us and our country coming through social media. Most alarmists tend to be more loud than correct!
Count on this: The American people are decent and caring, and that’s a huge majority.
This Independence Day, remember what’s important—what’s always been important. Think not about the idiots, jerks, and the ill-informed—they are bullies. Instead, stand up against the hate of any people, continue to protect, just as we always have and always will. We stand here in the land of the Noble Free, rejoice together in the words of Dr. King, “Let freedom ring!”
Amen? Amen! Happy Independence Day, America!
You’re invited. Join me on the Brick and Block Podcast. The goal of the Podcast is to be an extension and expansion of the Full Contact Project Management column, but all of it coming to you in bite-size chunks of info and wisdom that you can chew on while you’re driving to a jobsite. BrickAndBlockPodcast.com. The easy part of your workday.
|Coach Gary’s Corner: Gary Micheloni is a construction company marketer, speaker, author, consultant…and a coach. Get Coach Gary to speak for your group. FullContactTeam@gmail.com And be sure and tell him about how you are leading!|
Copyright 2021 Gary Micheloni