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Archive for the ‘Made in China’ Category

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“This feels like a dream; like I woke up and had never gone anywhere”.

She came home today. So did dozens of other students who’d been traveling the world of late. Some in Europe, others in the Far East, each now adjusting to their new normal back in the U.S.

New normals include the little things, like driving on the right side of the road, the English language all around you, and a shocking departure from accustomed culture. New normals also mean the small group with which you’ve shared your life over recent months won’t be together again, at least not in the same way.

Only hours after getting off the plane, reunions with friends were already underway. As “Little Frauline-Sahn” was not ready to drive anywhere other than the left side of the road, I gave her a quick shuttle over to where the gang was assembling.

On my way home, the 80’s Aldo Nova tune “Fantasy” was playing on the old
guy radio station. Portions of the lyrics were eerily relevant to the moment:

City Nights
Summer breeze makes you feel alright
Neon-lights
Shining brightly make you brain ignite…

…See the men pain their faces and cry
Like some girl, it makes you wonder why

City life
Sure is cool, but it cuts like a knife, it’s your life
So forget all that you see
It’s not reality, it’s just a fantasy
Can’t you see what this crazy life is doing to me

Life is just a fantasy, can you live this fantasy life

In actuality, life is not just a fantasy, even though it passes by quickly.

Now, Alboy ever growing to be that tall? That is a fantasy, most likely. Maybe he’s the one who’s been dreaming…

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…cause I eats me spinach…

Whenever our friend Popeye got into trouble, sometimes seemingly at death’s door, he would always eat his spinach and live (and love) to fight another day. He almost always had it on him, ready for the moment, but in times of extreme duress, others answered the call, providing it just when he needed it the most.

What a great analogy for God’s Word. It is always with us, standing at the ready, poised to strengthen us for the fight. And, when we can’t muster enough within us to retrieve more sustenance, others stand ready to provide.

I confess that I don’t eat enough spinach. I don’t feast on the Word, enough, either. Here’s a commitment to do more of both. And, may I be at the ready to offer some to you, hopefully just when you need it the most, and you do the same for me. Sound like a deal?

Isaiah 40:7-9

7 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.”

Have a blessed Sunday, America, and friends around the globe. I know some of you already have, and I’ve been blessed to be in the room with a few of you. Auf weidersehen.

Yes, and in case you were wondering, these episodes of Popeye the Sailor Man were in fact pre-recorded, but not in front of a live studio audience. The audience was all safely asleep in their beds.

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The World is Flat, A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century was a book written by NY Times author Thomas Freidman a few years ago. It discusses the history of the world twenty years from now, and in the chapter “Y2K to March 2004,” what people will say was the most crucial development. The attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the Iraq war? Or the convergence of technology and events that allowed India, China, and so many other countries to become part of the global supply chain for services and manufacturing, creating an explosion of wealth in the middle classes of the world’s two biggest nations, giving them a huge new stake in the success of globalization? And with this “flattening” of the globe, which requires us to run faster in order to stay in place, has the world gotten too small and too fast for human beings and their political systems to adjust in a stable manner? (Wikipedia)

Much has changed since that book was written, but the premise is the same. When America sneezes, the world catches a cold, but I believe the converse is true as well.

Much has happened in the past month. There was a devastating earthquake in Japan. The U.S. and its allies began, after a protracted debate and delay, bombing the government forces in Libya. I think it has something to do with “Regime Change”. This is not the first time we have gone down this road with Gadhafi. I find it highly ironic that in the early 80’s, President Reagan ordered airstrikes on Gadhafi to remove him from power, and 30 years later, momentos of that airstrike sit in the Reagan Museum and Library next to his grave, and Gadhafi is still in power. Meanwhile, as the Peace loving French were leading airstrikes against Gadhafi in 2011, the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was conducting a humanitarian aid mission off the coast of Japan. The world is flat, indeed, but I would suggest that not that much has really changed, in principle.

President Kennedy tried this 50 years ago with Castro, and Castro has remained in power for generations beyond the lighting of Kennedy’s “eternal flame” in Arlington National Cemetery. So, from Casto/Kennedy to Reagan to Obama/Gadhafi, has much really changed?

The phrase “Made in China” used to be viewed as a bad thing in this country. Today, it is an expected and embraced norm. We don’t actually make much in this country, anymore, and when we do, it tends to cost more due to our labor expectations. “Made in Japan” is a good thing, today. Most of the components of the iPad I am using to post this today were made in Japan.

But, what do we do now? Who will make our stuff? U.S. Factories are seeing shortages on parts today, two to three weeks removed from the quake, and people are being released from their jobs and everything from video cameras to cars to iPads are expected to be in short supply soon.

I have written recently that, of the few vices I can recognize and attempt to manage in life, one of those is moderation, especially in buying clothes. As I looked at the tags in my closet, the flat world came ever closer to home. Rich nations. Poor nations. Impoverished island nations. 5 of the 6 populated continents, sans Australia, have a presence as manufacturers of my wardrobe. What would I wear today, if the world was not flat?

At least, if I can help my shoes keep their shape courtesy of “made in the USA”, that is a start.

We borrow a lot of money in this country, both as indivuduals and collectively as a nation. China, and Japan, both are two of our largest creditors at “USA, Inc.”. But, what if they get tired of doing so, or need the money more for their own economies? Who will loan us money to buy their stuff? And if we can’t buy as much of their stuff, will they grow weary of us? What if we can’t (and we likely won’t, in relative terms) do a good job of paying them back on our debts, in constant purchasing power value terms? What if they get angry, and begin to call for “regime change” at USA, Inc.?

Noted philosopher Billy Joel sang about this in his trademark song about the 20th Century: “We Didn’t Start the Fire

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again

Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock

Begin, Reagan, Palestine, Terror on the airline

Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

Wheel of Fortune, Sally Ride, heavy metal suicide

Foreign debts, homeless Vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz

Hypodermics on the shores, China’s under martial law

Rock and Roller cola wars, I can’t take it anymore

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

But when we are gone

It will still burn on, and on, and on, and on…

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning

Since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

No we didn’t light it

But we tried to fight it

A better man than Joel, and the author and finisher of true philosophy had a few thoughts in this arena as well:

Matthew 24:

 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

   9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

In a book from the early 1800’s, Democracy in America, a Frenchman named Alexis de Tocquerville wrote: “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults”.

Who will one day want to “change our regime”…?   Who does today?   

I hope more of us than not still believe that way, because we’ve apparently got some repair work to do, maybe for quite some time…, or for as long as this earthly regime is allowed to continue buying, borrowing, and maybe even bullying?

 

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