Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Cat and Dog Blogging

We are visiting friends in Denver, CO, and here are pictures of some animal friends:

Sunday, October 04, 2009

the forms of space

This slightly altered photo of an early morning boater on our creek reminds me of the swirls around Saturn and of some other galaxies. How closely akin is the geometry of life to the wonder of God!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Chronological age and diplomacy

Diplomacy is about relationships. A few young people are true diplomats. Condoleeza Rice was one of those. Although I disagreed with many of her pronouncements and decisions, she knew how to navigate around people who were different from her. Hillary Clinton is another. Indira Ghandi, Margaret Thatcher, Henry Kissinger, Janet Reno. They each had much to dislike, but they made friends among the leaders of the world.

Age can be a great assist in that process of making friends. Think about Hillary Clinton for a moment. She went to law school at Yale during a time when that must have been difficult. She learned about underhanded dealings (common in the South at the time it happened) and how that could affect one's life. But, she negotiated her way out of that for herself and Bill. Having known one of the people involved, I have no doubt that Hillary knew the Whitewater escapade was edgy at best and borderline illegal.

Then, she survived the eight years as First Lady, failing in her attempt to promote and pass a health care reform bill. Was she disillusioned? At first she retreated into silence and good works - forging more and more powerful and not-so-powerful relationships throughout the country.

She was probably a leader is saving Bill's job during the intern affair. Again, not much doubt about Bill's involvement, but I believe she was the negotiator who maneuvered them out of that entanglement.

She ran for Senator from New York and won. Spotlight knowledge of the campaign trail and all the potholes one encounters along the way. She moved into the Senate with aplomb and worked her relationships with other senators and congressional leaders to help pass some good legislation.

Then the bid for President. She ran a good race. She might have won if she'd been prettier or could have smiled more. Barak Obama was younger, good looking, pushy, smiled a lot, seemed to have the ideal family. I believe she lost primarily because of those factors. (Don't get me wrong here; I support Obama and his goals and his energy. I don't think Hillary could have done what he has done so far.) She learned the limits of what a woman can do in the public light.

Now, as Secretary of State, Hillary is moving around the world, making contact with leaders in countries where we need support. She doesn't make the news as often as some of her predecessors, but I believe that she is building strong relationships in places where we need them. She certainly has the skills for saying the right things at the right times to keep processes open and working. She could talk her way out of a garbage dumpster with it on the way up to the dump truck. The nation needs someone with fluent language talents right now. Hillary is quietly making the contacts and gaining the tacit agreement of strong allies. Barak Obama will need those contacts and her abilities soon.

And, she is keeping very silent on the subject of health care. She is not reminding the public that she was involved in that same process some seven or eight years ago. Of course, the conservatives are scared to death of anything that bespeaks more government. I grant you that the US government doesn't have the greatest track record of handling money or entitlement programs - too many steps along the way. Hillary is continuing to show her knowledge about how politics work by staying out the way on topics that might produce adverse reactions.

She has learned a lot along the way. And, so have most of us who have reached that 60 plus age. Young teachers barge into classrooms full of energy and knowledge and encounter discipline and inner-school political problems. They balk at submitting to a negotiating style. They just want to teach, but relationships are throughout the world. I'm unsure what teachers do when they get disgusted or exhausted and leave the classroom, but I am sure they meet similar political challenges in whatever they do.

Young clergy are the same way. They throw themselves into their first church and are frequently reined in by older pastors who know that you can't make too many waves too quickly or you'll swamp the boat. Learning patience and tact is hard; learning assertiveness is also difficult. But, by the time pastors reach their mid-sixties, they choose their soapboxes carefully. One can hope they are less concerned with the trappings of church (though those decisions must be made) than they are with the care of the souls in their congregations. Developing relationships with God are as difficult as developing relationships with countries that have reason to hate us.

Age helps. Experience helps.