Friday, July 04, 2008

Patriotic Thoughts for the 4th of July

As things unravel, we would do well to ponder the wisdom of this quote from General Douglas MacArthur: "There is no security on this earth; there is only opportunity."

In honor of July 4th, I want to give voice to something which is deeply patriotic, and I say this without irony: the greatest freedom we have in the U.S.A. is the freedom to fail. Without the freedom to fail, then you cannot learn anything of value, or truly value what you have learned and earned.

Our popular culture is obsessed with winning, public adoration, entertainment and membership in some elite. These expectations are built on a default setting of absolute security; we should all have ample FEW resources-- food, energy and water--and housing, employment, paid vacations, healthcare and pensions, too. These should all be ours simply for being born in the U.S. or by immigrating to the U.S.

With all these securities guaranteed, we are then free to pursue our dream to be on stage and win the hearts of people everywhere, etc.

But a funny thing happened on the way to our winning performance on American Idol: all the security we assumed was our birthright has turned to sand.

Maybe the only security we really have is the ability to fall, dust ourselves off and start over, and the ability to focus on opportunity rather than security.

I know many of you already "get it"--depending on entitlementts from an essentially insolvent/debt-addicted Federal government is not security.

Here is a wonderful missive from a new reader who happens to be an entrepreneur. To me, she has expressed the essence of seeing opportunity in the dissolution of security:

I own a small company and have been tooling my entrepreneurial efforts toward peak oil preparations, not in the usual sense of growing tomatoes in my backyard, but in building local economic networks. But, it has been difficult intellectually because I am deeply torn between the traditional marketing need for all-smiles-all-the-time, and the absolute reality that business as usual cannot (and won't) continue.

I strongly believe that entrepreneurial gumption is essential to the survival of any community -- it is the essence of economic adaptive iteration -- but I have felt bound and gagged from associating any thoughts on peak oil, etc., from my business activities lest I alienate potential clients.

Two critical resources have fallen into my lap. The first is a copy of Daniel Pink's "A Whole New Mind," which provides a mainstream hook (excuse? justification?) for blogging about business through the long emergency. The second was your Weblogs/New Media: The Power Yet to Come overview, which provided a conceptual framework for the relentless profusion of ideas, insights, interdisciplinary connections, and other thoughts I have on the subject. Thank gods I'm not the only one thinking about this stuff!

My own interest in apocalypse business is addressing looming, community-level crises with innovative business planning based on nonhierarchical networks, symbiosis, and coopetition. This is itself based on my studies of ecology, which busies itself not with mere survival but audacious wealth creation. Everywhere I look, a business plan to address future crises pops into my head. I think these could potentially be helpful in a very pragmatic sense for others. Well said, and completely appropriate for the 4th of July.

My 4th of July wish is that everyone you know who is serving in Iraq and Afghanistan comes home safely. Within our extended families, one young man gave his life in Iraq; our friend in the Marines made it home in one piece. On this 4th, let's remember all those who joined to serve and defend their nation and found themselves shipped to Iraq or Afghanistan by our civilian politicians.

Thank you, Marcus M. ($40), for your wonderfully generous donation via mail to this site. I am greatly honored by your on-going support and readership.

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