All Aboard!

SUBHEAD: Obama needs to get back to Mother Earth by getting out of his bubble and touching down on the ground.

 By Juan Wilson on 9 December 2009 for Island Breath -

Image above: Wagon camp at night on the "Oregon Trail" by Albert Bierstadt 1869. From  

Aboard a 19th Century Ocean Liner
Back in July I wrote article titled "Here's the Deal". It opened with a section titled "Welcome aboard the Titanic". It was focused on the plight of Titanic Captain John Smith after striking the iceberg and realizing the ship was doomed. He knew the ship was going to sink in icy water with too few lifeboats and little chance of a timely rescue.

What to do? Should he tell the truth and start the an early and uncontrollable panic or should he go on as if there were an orderly procedure for facing the "inconvenience" at hand.

As we near the end of 2009 some things are clearing as we look forward. It appears President Obama is doing everything he can to keep the ship of state afloat. As captain of the ship he is bailing as fast as he can against the incoming waters that now are lapping over the gunwales. He has felt an obligation to reinforce the financial and military systems that run Corporate America.

These intertwined partners support, as well as feed off, the very source of our current dilemma; our appetite for resources to burn and make into more plastic junk. In case you have not noticed, that game is just about over.

Once the coal fires in the engine room of the Titanic were flooded, the bilge pumps stopped bailing. Then Captain Smith loaded the families of the rich and famous into the few lifeboats and decided to go down to the bottom of the ocean with those souls that were left in steerage.  

Aboard a 20th Century Jet Liner
An update of the Obama/Smith analogy might be the Obama/Sullenberger analogy. In January 2009 Captain Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III flew a US Airways Airbus 320 out of New York's La Guardia Airport.

The plane encountered a flock of geese on ascent, and chewed up enough birds to stall the turbojets. The cockpit crew knew immediately that they were going down. Sullenberger was credited with quick decisive reactions. Sully was able to glide for a few more minutes, then nimbly landed the big jet in the icy Hudson River.

All 155 souls aboard were saved. That is what President Obama would like to do. Land the Good Ship America in a cornfield in Kansas. Then everybody can get back to their everyday lives. But there is an underlying problem.

When the Airbus 320 was still aloft, a mammoth rescue effort was already mounted and on the way. A delay of minutes would have meant many perishing. Who's going to rescue us in a mythical Kansas?

Whether he knows it or not, President Obama is now providing only palliative care. For those that don't know, that means making the terminal patient as comfortable as possible because all that can be done now is to reduce the pain.

Trillions of dollars will be spent next year to increase the glide path of America's descent. It won't let us climb to lofty altitudes of consumerism or even stay in the air. With some luck, it will only have the effect of making our landing not take the shape of a crater. There is a popular Saudi saying we have quoted before:
"My father rode a camel. I drive a car. My son flies a jet-plane. His son will ride a camel."
Aboard a 21st Century Wagon Train
Back in 1968 The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was reeling after the assassination of its leader, Martin Luther King. Under King the SCLC had linked poverty, racism and the military as co-conspirators, and many believed that was why he was shot. He had joined the Civil Rights Movement with the anti-Vietnam War protests quite effectively.

Ralph David Abernathy served as the SCLC Program Director, and had taken King's place. He struggled with keeping the SCLC relevant and carried work further on idea of the Mule Train. The SCLC Poor People's Campaign led nine regional mule trains of covered wagons through the south to such places as Washington DC.

Abernathy led such a march to the Cape Kennedy Space Center to protest the expense of sending man to the moon while poverty still weighed so heavily on the land. An odd juxtaposition the mule train and the moon capsule. At the time I did not "get it", but now 40 years later it is starting to make sense. There may be another analogy to make using Obama ...

The Obama/Abernathy one. Perhaps President Obama will come to a point when he feels compelled to set an example, as did Jimmy Carter in 1975 when he put on a sweater and suggested we turn down our thermostats. Jimmy was laughed at and voted out of office, but he spoke truth-to-denial.

President Obama could lead us back to the perception that "forty acres and a mule" was all a free man needed to provide for a family, have meaningful work and have a future. He could invoke a time when Americans might see opportunities in a change of life that would require a tough journey, but end, after some hard work, in a garden and a new way of living. Americans once braved a great deal for a chance at a new life.

They left the "comfort" of the industrialized East and headed into an unknown wilderness in covered wagons drawn by horses and mules. We need someone to inspire us to seek the adventure of change. Wasn't that what Obama promised? A vegetable garden at the White House was a baby-step. Can Obama even imagine a time when "middle-class" Americans are conducting sustainable low-tech lives outside of corporate suburban America? I pray he does.

Shortly after President Obama was inaugurated he celebrated Captain Sully's safe landing with an event at the White House. Symbolic? Yes.

Now perhaps he can begin to practice showing us how to get back to Mother Earth by getting out of his bubble and touching down on the ground... then, and only then, can he start getting in touch with the truth.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Here's the Deal 7/5/09
Ea O Ka Aina: The speech Obama needs to give 10/13/09
Island Breath: Our Impending Journey Nears 8/24/07


Anonymous said...

Juan, you have been drinking the Kool-aid. Read Obama Far Outdoes Bush in Escalating War -- The Numbers Will Surprise You and weep.

Juan Wilson said...


Please leave name in the future.
I have not drunk the Kool-Ade. I felt ill watching Onbama receive the Nobel Peace Prize and had to look away. He should have refused it for failing to find a way to peace.

I am not suggesting Obama will make any moves I recommend. I believe he has been swallowed by the beast and won't be coming out ant time soon.

He is the Titanic's captain seeking to ensure comfort and escape for the rich who are aboard.

That said... he is still better than what will follow... a Palin - Beck ticket in 2012.


Mauibrad said...

I wasn't the prior anonymous, but yesterday I met someone from Alaska who personally knows Palin and he said she is smart, my only question about her. I'm starting to think Palin/Beck would be better than Obama. Obama is spineless and has no conviction, plus I think they have something on him, like his real place of birth, and so he is easily manipulated.

Juan Wilson said...

Yo Brad,

I think Palin and Beck are sly. In my opinion they are populist neo-facsits. They are not conservatives or libertarians. Perhaps more accurately they are media darlings of the corporatists.

Have you ever seen "A Face in the Crowd". Best role Andy Griffith ever had as an evil "corn-pone-just-folks-like-you" TV personality has grand designs.

Obama is not spineless, he is a politician... and a masterful one. He fooled us all. He works methodically and strategically.

My god... he was able to defend expanding the AlPac war while he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize.

I'd rather vote for Feinstein/Kucinich in 2012.


Anonymous said...

all Sarah! all the time!
Dan Quale with breasts!
That's my GOP!

Mauibrad said...

Even better than Palin/Beck would be Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich.

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