Outage

Posted on September 4, 2011


Lately we’ve experienced outages from earth quakes and hurricanes.  In her retirement SamHenry works as a customer service representative for a national cable company.  A caller last night pleaded to get the video on demand functionality restored because she and her son wanted to watch a funny movie.  Sam rose to the occasion with “I could tell a few jokes.”  Hey, sometimes when our technology suffers a break down, we are forced to be inventive and to try to make light of one inescapable fact:  we are hooked on media.

There are countless people – many alone and infirm – who count on television to be their link to the outside world.  They literally cannot live without it.  Or ask the parents of  young children how they made it through the outages that mushroomed with hurricane Irene with young, screaming children who could not continue mesmerized by the Disney Channel.

Next week we will be marking the 10th anniversary of our only wartime national outage.  But it was more than our communications systems that were at risk that day, it was the fabric of our very day-to-day lives in this and other developed countries.  Ten years we can more clearly see issues that were developing pre 9/11:

  • Guerrilla warfare called “asymmetrical”  entered the vocabulary.  Sadly, our military was slow to recognize that masses of men up against small bands of terrorists did not make sense.  The rise of elite special forces as a primary vehicle of defense and offense became a reality.
  • Fuel efficient automobiles finally became the only way out in a world in which the source for terrorists was adjacent to the oil wells that sustain us.
  • Military budgets blossomed as two wars were fought simultaneously in the Middle East.
  • A feeling of helpless and vulnerability swept over us as we slowly realized that the world was one thing before and quite another after 9/11.  A giant nation could be brought to its economic and spiritual knees by the acts of a small band of terrorists.

This last change was the most profound.  It has put all large nations on notice that no matter the nuclear weapons, the treaties of support from allies or sheer numbers can no longer protect any one or any country from being vulnerable to attack in major ways.

We put in place even more draconian measures to track people in this country – all people – and we made agreements with other nations in the west to share this kind of information.  But again, the very technology that made the Patriot Act possible also inspired Wikkileaks.  Again, a vulnerability had been exposed.

Criminal activity on Wall Street and elsewhere was about the only thing that flourished in our weakening economy. Convinced that electing a president who vowed to bring us all together and with it change, the Obama juggernaut swept over the country and created Obama voters who thought that a vote for  him would bring a new dawn.  After all, a vote for Obama at the very least was the culmination of  the victory of America over prejudice.  The unfortunate result was an outage in our system as Obama pulled the plug on the Constitution, reasonable spending, listening to voters and providing an inspired leadership.  With the lack of leadership, we stand divided and on the precipice of ruin.

We were never more united since WWII than we were on 9/11 and in the weeks that immediately followed.  But as our country went into an economic and spiritual free fall, few could imagine that it would continue into 2011.  The US is right now the walking wounded.  We have yet to marshal our better angels and do what has to be done to salvage this country.  It has not helped that in our darkest moments of a bleak jobs picture and falling stock prices there is not leadership in Washington.  The pouting President boarded Marine 1 for his trip to Camp David without acknowledging anyone and went off for yet another vacation.

This anniversary is not one of success.  We continue in the outage of spirit and well-being.  Watch the candidates for President and other offices carefully in 2012.  Watch them as if your life depended on it because it does.

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