Politics — The ‘Left vs Right’ Debate

LIBERTARIAN-header

Now, I don’t pretend to know about much — but I do know a lot about video games. I know what you’re thinking, “what the heck does video games have to do with the political system?” and just bear with me.  Video games are a medium through which we can see how what happened to the republican party (ultimately resulting in the mess we are calling our current presidential election) is the exact same thing is happening to the democratic party now.  Come on a journey with me, if you will:

We are in the late 1900’s and video games are just starting to take off.  The “religious right” was attacking video games saying that they caused violent tendencies for those who partake. Some of you may remember this push against the video game community and it’s call for control over video game content. Flash forward to 2015 and we see this far left “social justice warrior” movement (as some would call it) and what they called “video game gate” (a harsh jab at my beloved New England Patriots, but I digress). Their claim was that video games make people sexist. Now whether or not you believe that video games can make people violent or sexist is beside the point — the studies show nothing behind either argument, anyway.  What does matter, is the distinction of “right vs left” and “establishment vs libertarian-ism”.

Looking at the picture at the top of this article, it becomes clear. The power switches back and forth between the far left and right; and there is a struggle between those in power and the so-called “libertarians” of this country as well as the opposing side (over 70% of the country, according to a statistic I made up for this blog).

Whether you’re conservative or liberal is more-or-less inconsequential to this argument. Let’s take a look at the term “establishment”.  It is a term thrown around a lot in politics today but what I define it as is “the overarching institution that holds the belief system leading the american political environment presently.” This doesn’t have to be a person or even a group of people, it is just the — well, the establishment — “the man”, if you will.  In the 1900’s, the establishment was the far right conservative movement. The people fought back against the man by saying “you cant tell me how to feel and how to act”. The remnants of this establishment is the push-back the democrats feel today when trying to pass things like The Marriage Equality Act and similar legislation. However, the establishment has far changed.

As a more tolerant and socially liberal generation comes into power, the establishment has become very much liberal. I don’t care how much push-back they get, marriage equality is not going away and human rights campaigns are now the norm. The anti-establishment so-called “hippies” of the time have now been replaced with the “bigots” resisting the government forcing the establishment’s principles on them.

I know that last sentence was hard to swallow. Let me state that I am not saying one side is correct and another side isn’t. I am making an objective observation.  The establishment is always changing and so are the different political parties. The one thing that remains constant is the battle between the establishment and disestablishment.  Whoever is in power wants to impose their beliefs on whoever is not in power and, consequently, those not in power resist.

What happened to the republicans and what resulted in their ultimate downfall? Well, a lot of different things came into play.  It can be argued that an extremest group (later known as the “tea party”) grew and remained unchecked until they polarized the party until its base no longer recognized it.  I see the same thing happening to the democratic party now.  These social justice warriors screaming at and shutting a Sen. Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle enrage people from both parties — especially democrats (if you haven’t seen the video, I recommend it).  It is my humble opinion that if this remains unchecked, the democratic party may have a similar falling out down the road.

Even if you do not agree with the parallel I am trying to draw, I hope I was able to make you think about the situation differently. Thanks for reading.

Credit: The picture is from http://quotesgram.com/left-libertarian-quotes/

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Earth

Forest of Gede Pangrango
Forest scenery of Gede Pangrango 

It is no secret that the way we live on this planet cannot be sustained. Now, I know what you’re thinking — “Here comes another liberal college student toting about climate change.” and trust me, this isn’t going to be that kind of blog. For us “sciency” people, it helps to take an objective look at everything. So lets do just that together. Don’t worry, I have already sat down and done all of the boring math, you just come along for the ride.

The Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old. Contrarily, human beings are around 200,000 years old. To put that in prospective, if we condense 4.5 million years down to a single year. Just 365 days. We have the first human-like creatures stumbling to their feet at around noon on December 31 — the last day of the year. Neanderthals began showing up at 23:30 (yes, you read that right. That is 30 minutes before the end of the year). And civilization as we know it sprouted at 23:55.

Now all of this math is well and good, but what does that mean? Let’s look at trees. Nobody disagrees that trees are important. Trees not only create the air we breathe but also create habitats for the animals with which we share this planet. According to National Geographic, up to 80% of the worlds natural forests have already been destroyed. Now, I promised that I would be objective, so lets go back to that single year analogy. If you were omniscient and looking down on the Earth for that year, what would you think? You see civilization pop up 5 minutes before the year ends and already 80% of a resource (that all living things need to survive, mind you) has already been destroyed. Objectively, this is not sustainable. Throwing away all of the morality that people say “It is wrong to drain Mother Earth” and “We are not alone on this planet” and look at it simply as a scientist. Mathematically we won’t make it past the first minute of the next year.

If a lot of you are like me, you think “Well we are screwed and there is nothing I can do about it.”  Let me make a counter argument. Humans are smart — we are really smart. We have done things in that 5 minutes that no other species could do in their entire existence.  If there is one thing that this tells me, is that we are capable of amazing things.

*WARNING TIME FOR MY PLUG*

It is time to stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution. You can do this in many ways, even just going out and planting a single tree. I found my way by donating to this amazing foundation named “Stand for Trees”. If you are unfamiliar with this organization, please google them and do some research. You say you can’t make a difference because you are just one person, but don’t think of yourself as one person – think of us as one community.  Thanks for reading.

Leadership: Value-Based Decision Making

Firstly, I would like to say that the opinions expressed in this blog are mine alone and do not reflect, in any way, on the organizations to which I belong. That being said, in my relatively minimal experience with leadership, there are quite a few things I have noticed. Pulling from my own observations and my father’s vast knowledge and experience, it has become clear that there is one thing that separates a good leader from a great leader: the ability to apply “value-based decision making” skills.  Now, when dear ol’ dad was explaining this to me first, I was having trouble fully grasping the concept. Before I get into that, however, I should really explain to you my fathers definition.

Value-based decision making is a leaders ability to deviate from standards and procedures — and in some cases, regulations — in order to change the organization or current situation for the better. Now for those in the military, that may seem sacrilegious — but bear with me.  This is in no way an invitation for leaders to start breaking regulation and run wild with their power.  In order to be justified, the deviation must follow these three rules:

Firstly, the decision has to be intellectually honest.  By that I mean that it has to make sense.  Regulations, for the most part, were written by ordinary people based on others mistakes. There is no way that they could possible account for every situation for which the regulation would apply. If a regulation exists, and for a certain situation it simply does not make sense (if you have waiver authority), as a leader you have an obligation to make a decision (based in values) to deviate.  Any trained monkey can follow regulation word for word. For any organization, the mission is constantly evolving and there is a lag before the regulations can be updated — that is what leaders are for.

Secondly, the deviation cannot be self-serving. This should be obvious. If you as a leader benefit from this decision, it creates a conflict of interest.  Even if the decision is made for the right reasons, a leader must always avoid the appearance of corruption.  If it even looks like a leader might be corrupt, the public will loose faith and subsequently the organization will loose legitimacy.  Therefore, any value-based decision cannot be self-serving.

Lastly, the decision has to actually improve something. If the decision is in no way better than what regulation permits, then there is no reason to deviate.  Many leaders confuse different with better, but as the old saying goes “if it aint broke, don’t fix it.”

After all of these rules are met, you can be justified in making your value-based decision that you know in your heart you should make. Let me know if any of you leaders out there have any examples of value-based leadership either succeeding or failing. And thanks for reading.

I would like to give credit to my father, Arthur Crain, for his insight and guidance in my quest to become a better leader. Most of what I know comes from him.

My First Blog Post

Hello!

I am not sure if anyone will even be reading this — but I am starting this blog in the hopes of creating an outlet through which I can express my ideas. Now, I am not so vain to think that I have the greatest ideas or the most valuable insight into any subject matter. However, I would argue that any well-informed individual would like to take any opportunity to learn from sources whose ideas perhaps differ from their own.  At the risk of sounding repetitive, I do not wish to become a career blogger — I do not have the writing capacity nor the time needed to publish regularly.  This will become apparent if you deem my blog worthy of a revisit.

To be honest, writing this feels like I am writing a letter to myself, keeping it in my desk drawer, and then feeling disappointed at the realization that no one will ever read it; though even that holds merit, I suppose.  Having an outlet is probably one of the most important avenues when traveling to a healthy mental state. Whether one or a million people read it is very much inconsequential. For the last ten years of my life, my outlet was music — the parallel being that no one was listening. However, lately I have noticed that I have these ideas (I know, crazy right?!?).  Getting these ideas off my chest in the form of, lets call it, “passionate discussions” with my close friends made me feel better. That is where I got the idea to make a blog.  So, I won’t waste any more of you imaginary people’s imaginary time. I hope you enjoy my future posts.