On Cuban pride and Trump’s pickle

Pride is a powerful thing. We instill it in our offsprings as a must – as a must we need to have. “Be proud of yourself; be proud of your family; be proud of your country; we are a proud people”, we are taught.

And thus proud we are. Some peoples more than others.

Certainly we Cubans are proud – very proud. We are disproportionately influential. We’ve impacted history more than nations ten times our size. Our numbers in entertainment and sports are impressive indeed.

We are – in our eyes – the center of the universe. We – those of us in exile – are a unique subset of the Cuban people.

And, the Miami-NJ Cubans are generally a subset – and a majority – of the exile subset.  The prominent Miami-NJ Cuban exile politically correct, self censored line is: “We are the best. The ones that have seen the light. The ones that risked it all. The ones that have become more Americans than Americans. The descendents of the Havana socialite ladies that paid for Martha Washington’s Inaugural Ball dress (look it up!) The ones that made Baseball great. The ones that saved Coca Cola from bankruptcy (look it up!) The ones that one day will return to Cuba to right a very long wrong…” And so think so many exiles. (And, if you think different you are a rabid Communist not to be welcomed anywhere near Versailles!)

Thus, this proud logic continues: “It is justifiable and commonsensical we Cubans are given special immigration status. After all, we have our own version of Manifest Destiny and Cuban Exceptionalism. We are the Jews of Latin America!” … Until now.

Now we have a President of the U.S. on his way out who is telling us, in essence, we Cubans are no different from Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, or Mexicans. The exile’s response seems to be: “Gasp! How can you say that?!? We ARE different! We made you in 2012 and we broke you in 2016 with our votes in Florida! We are powerful! Don’t mess with us – you will regret it!”

(Never mind that most exiled Cubans have been saying that the Cubans coming over in recent decades are all economic migrants, no different from others from any other country. But hey, WE can say that. But, don’t you non-Cuban dare tell us!)

Our pride has been shaken. Our dirty little family secret in being aired in public.

Maybe our pride needs shaking. Maybe it is our pride that has gotten in the way of resolving this decades long mess we are in. Maybe it is our pride we need to check to move forward and make Cuba not great again, but simply a place where dignity, self-determination, respect, civility, and personal choices are embedded in the cultural norm.

I know the hurt is deep. I know the personal and family irreparable damage that has been done. I know forgiving is too much to ask.

Yet, maybe a strong dash of humility will change the course of the discourse. Maybe if we put our pride aside and accept not only that we are no better than Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, or Mexicans, accept – indeed – that we are not even better than the Cubans in the island!

Maybe we exiles feel we have been enlightened by our six decades of exposure to commercialization, consumerism and too infinite information… But maybe – just maybe – the people in the island have been enlightened by the inventiveness required to survive in poverty, deprivation and the absence of information.

Equality is a tough virtue to embrace. But maybe – just maybe – dealing with others as equals rather than from a warped sense of superiority and a false sense of pride will lead to authentic mutually beneficial future… Maybe – just maybe – justice will come through a diplomatic, engaging process rather than from a ‘you-are-all-evil-we-are-all-good’ intractable position.

Maybe, just maybe, Obama is on to something… Let’s see what Trump says – and does.

Mr. Obama has put Mr. Trump in quite a pickle. How will Trump justify reinstating a policy (the wet-foot-dry-foot policy) that in essence gives Cubans a distinct clear advantage over all other immigrants?  How will Trump be able to talk of building a wall in the Mexican border while espousing opening the dam in the Florida Straits?!?… Quite a pickle indeed.


The Missing 5 C’s in Mr. Trump’s Vocabulary: Community, Consensus, Collaboration, Cooperation, Collective.

The missing 5 C’s in Mr. Trump’s Vocabulary: Community, Consensus, Collaboration, Cooperation, Collective.

Language is a strange thing. It is symbolic. Language is never the thing itself. When you say “car”, it is up to your imagination to conjure up the image as the word is not the car.

Philosophical b.s.? No. Words matter. The words you choose – and those you don’t – matter. The old adage of ‘say what you mean and mean what you say’ matters… (Or so we thought.)

It is possible to speak to someone is good, perfect English and simply because of the words chosen end up literally speaking past each other… and so it is with Mr. Trump. He may claim to speak the language of the common folks; and, he may claim to rebuke ‘political correctness’. But, the words he chooses – and those he doesn’t – say so much.

These 5 C’s are examples of words he seems to avoid with a passion, never uttering them.

  • Community. The idea that the whole is more than the sum of its part.
  • Consensus. The idea that while ‘majority rules’, it is important to positively engage those that disagree with the majority.
  • Collaboration. The idea that co-laboring is effective, if not always efficient.
  • Cooperation. The idea that helping each other succeed is a good thing.
  • Collective. The idea that equity in laboring is important; that we ultimately work for the common good.

Interesting that the antonyms of these 5 C’s are the 5 D’s that seem to guide the language of Mr. Trump:

  • Instead of highlighting Community, he seems to highlight Dissimilarity.
  • Instead of seeking Consensus, he seems to seek Disagreement.
  • Instead of pursuing Collaboration, he seems to pursue Disunion.
  • Instead of wanting Cooperation, he seems to want Discord.
  • Instead of praising the Collective, he seems to praise Division.

Of course, there is a thread going through these words that is – seemingly in his view – their antithesis: the absence of the “I”, as in Individual. This warped sense of individualism as a dogmatic stance is the root of rampant selfishness, win at all costs, and the “it is all about me” attitude.

To those of us who grew up in a faith and family where togetherness matters, where taking care of each other matters, and where helping others matters, this dogmatic individualism does not sit well.

Mind you, we get that we have to “look out for ourselves”; but, we also get that “no person is an island”, and we as human beings have an embedded sense of wishing others – and working for others to be – well.

To us, the 5 C’s matter. The absence of these words in the lexicon of Mr. Trump and his incoming team is a values difference that we can not dismiss. We will bring these words to our interactions with Mr. Trump’s team. We will seek to incorporate them in the messages to the public and in policies that guide government action.

The absence of these words from the public realm would be yet another unfortunate, unhealthy – and yes, unamerican – reality of the next four years.


The Trump Style: You may not like it. But it evidently works.

The Trump Style: You may not like it. But it evidently works.

Who would have thought that textbooks and workshops dealing with leadership would have to be so hastily rewritten?

Most of us old geezers have grown up in a world where we learned that successful leadership styles embrace certain tactics and values: telling the truth, respecting others, being inclusive, showing empathy, disagreeing gracefully, and seeking to win-win.

Well, clearly, maybe in the zeal to demonstrate how these elements of leadership are universal and must be embraced to succeed, we forgot that there are other ways to lead; other ways to power; other ways to get elected.

Few saw it coming. A new leadership style has won the day!

Telling lies, being disrespectful, pursuing exclusivity, demonstrating mercilessness, disagreeing forcefully, and tearing people down have been demonstrated to be leadership tactics and values that succeed.

(I will not bore you with examples of how Trump has used “all of the above”. If you disagree and believe he has not, you probably should read no further.)

Forget diplomacy, consensus building, and mediation. Those are meek attributes of leadership now. Now the name of the game is win at all costs, tear people down so you can build them back up, make them worship you. You are their leader!

So the issue at hand is, how much credence do we give this incident of success – Trump winning the Presidency – as an affirmation of this leadership style? Is it replicable elsewhere in business, government, and civil settings?

There are plenty of examples of some elements of similar to this Trumpanesque leadership style succeeding through the ages. Whether you like it or not – whether you agree with the results or not; whether you think it is right or wrong – the fact is that this leadership style works. It leads to success – at least for the leader.

We see this Trumpanesque leadership style in business all the time. Indeed, it could be argued that the only way to build a major company is to use many of these tactics. “All is fair in love and war.” Exxon, Goldman Sachs, and the like did not get powerful by being nice, accommodating, and empathetic. No. Ruthless “take no prisoner” approach to the cut-throat world of business got them to where they are today – highly successful enterprises.

We see this leadership style less in government, some might argue. But yet, historical examples abound. From the days of Genghis Khan to Adolf Hitler, history is full of merciless leaders that succeeded using these tactics and values. We don’t have to look too far back. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela (a duly elected leader) and Fidel Castro in Cuba (a Trojan horse if there ever was one) both demonstrated similar approach to gaining – and staying in – power. Indeed, even today we see Putin in Russia having over 75% approval rating, though he is unapologetically totalitarian and dictatorial.

In civic life these Tumpanesque values and tactics may not be as prevalent – but they do exist. More often than not they manifest themselves in manipulation and deception… But they are there nonetheless. More often than not they continue to exist because of apathy and neglect of the general public. But they exist nonetheless. When no one else steps up to lead, the self-absorbed, self-centered leaders step into the vacuum.

So, lest we give Mr. Trump too much credit, his leadership style has been around for a while and exists in varying ways…

… Maybe it is time we teach it in our schools and incorporate it in the bureaucracy.

After all, if it worked for the Chief, it should work for his followers, right? I expect no less from this Administration.

… and I – and many who remain committed to building a diverse, inclusive, and respectful society – will fight them (gracefully – but firmly!) every step of the way …


Just checking. To my Trumpistas friends and family: Are you still ok with this?

I actually have friends – good friends at that – who I respect greatly for their values and decency AND voted for Trump. While I disagree with their vote – and certainly do not understand it – they are still my friends. Gee, some are even family members!

Some have distanced themselves from me. They simply do not appreciate my continuing soap box. They don’t understand why I am still so fixated on the election and the consequences of a Trump presidency.

While it is unlikely any of them will be reading this post, nonetheless I’d like to ask them: “You ok?”

I mean, it seems relatively obvious to the most casual of observers that what we are getting – while it may be what the Trumpistas asked for – is turning out to be quite ‘out there’.

  • I get that parts of the Federal Government are broken and need fixing.
  • I get that some of our international relations are due for rethinking.
  • I get that in some instances regulations have gone too far.
  • I get that many are not realizing real benefits from the sluggish economic recovery.
  • I get that Obamacare is a bureaucratic mess.
  • I get that big business and the military industries are in what some would call ‘disproportionate control’ of our world.
  • I get that political correctness has run amuck.
  • I get that some social agendas are the antithesis of some faith group’s core beliefs.

I get all of that – and much more.

Still, amigo, are you ok with the President Elect’s Cabinet picks and policy posturing? It is one thing to want to fix what is broken; re-examine certain policies; and, float some fresh ideas. It is another to destroy decades of progress by committed professional and yes, good bureaucrats; pursue critical policy shifts through Tweets; and, come up with ideas that are simply not thought through to their logical conclusions – or not be concerned about the real impact of even floating the idea.

These things have consequences. And, they have ‘real life’ impact on our world, how we live in our neighborhoods, how we function as a society.

Are you ok with teaching our children that the world was created 6000 years ago? At least three Cabinet appointees – and the VP-elect – all have this ‘pseudo-science’ belief and certainly would want it taught in schools.

Are you ok with keeping the minimum wage where it is? (It has not been increased since 2009; it stands at $7.25.) The Department of Labor Secretary nominee certainly thinks so.

Are you ok with chumming up to Russia? The Secretary of State nominee certainly thinks so. Indeed, he has been honored by Putin. (Explain to me how it is ok do business with Russia and not Cuba. But, I digress.)

Are you ok with landlords being able to deny housing to someone based on race? The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development nominee has stated that the day is passed when we need anti-discrimination housing laws. He sees no needs for these laws and regulations.

Are you ok with a Federal department demanding employees reveal their political inclinations? The Secretary of the Environment Protection Agency nominee has already indicated he will be asking this very question of employees. (Some call this a ‘witch hunt’. It is.)

Are you ok with a President whose style has been demonstrated to be ‘insult first; ask questions later’? Forget all the groups he insulted during the campaign. As President-elect this pattern of behavior has continued. Most recently he has insulted the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) by questioning their integrity via a Tweet… Via a Tweet!

It is one thing to have apprehensions about the CIA, engage in dialogue regarding their operations and findings, inquire and seek more information on which they based their decisions. It is quite another to disrespectfully question their integrity… Via a Tweet!

To my dear Trumpistas friends and family: Just checking. Are you still ok with this?!?


A non-conventional candidate and soon to be a non-conventional president may just be leading us to a very conventional war

Our narcissist nationalist President-elect is being hailed by his supporters as a soon to be non-conventional President. While this may be entertaining in certain domestic policy areas, it is right down dangerous in the international stage.

It is one thing to rant about SNL or a Broadway show. It is another to break with decades of diplomatic protocol (i.e.: calling the President of Taiwan) or Tweeting up a storm against China and threatening them with tariffs. “Oh, it is just how he is”, they squirm. “Woohoo!” they say… “Ain’t it great? He’ll show them!” Yeah, right. Sure.

Well, it is one thing to play President. It is another to be President.

While we all must wait till he is actually in Office to see what actions he will take, his antics and impromptu machismo and chest-pumping does not bode well for the fragile world in which we live.

He can shout all he wants about American Exceptionalism, Manifest Destiny, and American Pride. I am sure his supporters will eat it up.

But, to many throughout the world – including some right here at home – America remains a nation-state created through genocide of the Native America people, enslavement of Africans, and exploitation of Mexicans. There’s nothing ‘exceptional’ about that history. The only manifest destiny that using 95% of the world’s resources with only 5 % of the world’s population will get us is a scorched earth. And a perverse pride based on demeaning others is not a sign of strength, but a sign of immaturity and insecurity.

We may not like what others think about us. We may have a ‘perfect argument’ for them. We may vehemently believe differently. But to dismiss others perspectives as ‘they are wrong and we are right’ is a dangerous proposition for international relations.

The universe does not revolve around us. We are still very much an imperfect Union. And yes, we have lots to learn from others throughout the world. To be self-righteous, self-indulging and selfish might feel good; but it is not good international posturing.

The President-elect can talk tough, be a ‘strong man’, and humiliate others and other nations all he wants. His self-righteousness and self-centered ego-inflating remarks might work internally in the domestic politics arena. However, it is simply the wrong approach in the complex, dangerous world of international politics.

He may think that since he is duly elected he can assert his punch. But, he runs the real danger of being a legend in his own mind. This may play well with his supporters. But, the fact that 75% of American over 18 years old chose to either not vote or vote for someone else indicates where the vast of America really is – not with him! (He should never ever forget that. Most President before him never did. Most recognized that they needed to be President for all Americans, not just the minority that voted for them.)

Might might make right; but might that leads to fight can be plain wrong.

If this President-elect has nothing to learn from mediation, conflict resolution, consensus building, and diplomacy – and a dash of humility – and instead insists on ‘winning’ internationally only through intimidation, insults, and demeaning the ‘enemies’ – if all this President-elect knows is how to make war rather than create peace, we are in for some dangerous times ahead. (I pray I am proved wrong!)


Call me touchie-feelie

Call me touchie-feelie. I yearn for a President that I can respect; a President I can believe; a President I can support.

I yearn for a President that conveys aspiration – not intimidation; a President that is inspirational – not dictatorial; a President that demonstrates critical thinking – not impulsive criticism.

But, I have Trump. A man who I do not respect; consistently lies; and seeks to take America in a direction I cannot support.

Trump, a man who intimidates, dictates, and criticizes impulsively.  He is our President-elect.

We have a President-elect who refuses to address – and rather seems determined to exasperate – the negative aspects of the:

  • Plight of the poor;
  • Hopelessness of the homeless;
  • Isolation of immigrants;
  • Disengagement of the disabled;
  • Insecurity of seniors; and,
  • Fright of minorities.

How do you live in a country where you so oppose the person – and many of the negative, hurtful policies of those – in highest power? How do you relate to – live with – those who respect, believe, and support him and those policies?

One approach is to realize that through most of human history most people have lived in these circumstances. Be it the king, the tyrant, the dictator, or the duly elected, most people have to live in a situation where they disagree – sometimes vehemently – with those in power. Yet live they must. Live they do. Live we will.

Some choose to divert from the political scene. Divert to all the wonderful aspects of life to be lived regardless of the human condition: Love those around you; enjoy the little things that matter; appreciate life regardless… And that I understand.

At the other end of the spectrum, a few choose to fight. Go underground. Flee. Find others that are willing to fight, both figuratively and literally. Do whatever it takes. Through whatever means are necessary… And that approach I will not take.

Many of us in the middle choose to work within the system – as imperfect and flawed as it is – to do what we can to change the things we don’t like, those things we disagree with, those things we feel strongly about… And this is what I choose to do.

In the absence of empathetic and caring leadership from the top, it is incumbent upon us who dare to dream differently – particularly those of us who know ‘the system’ – to be there for those in need; for those that have no political power…

This is not the time to despair. The poor, the homeless, the immigrants, the disabled, the seniors, and the minorities are counting on us. Time to get to work!


Making America small

Maybe the saddest aspect of Trump’s trajectory to power is how he is making America small. He brags of wanting to “make America great again”. Yet, he is actually making America small, making America petty.

He is making America small in many ways:

  • He demeans the Office of the Presidency: Rather than being aspirational, reaching out to all Americans, and seeking to unite the Country, he is divisive and refuses to reach out, try to understand the hurt of those that did not vote for him.
  • His language is raw, in a negative sense: In the attempt to speak (or Tweet) in the language of the ‘everyday man’, he degrades to insults, mean, and hurtful language.
  • Diplomacy seems to be foreign to him: In the attempt to operate as a businessman deal-maker, he refuses to seemingly want to govern using one of the key values of democracy, diplomacy.


  • Ultimately, there is a disconnect of his approach to the Presidency, what he seeks to do, and how he seeks to do it, with not an inconsequential part of America – certainly including me.
  • Ultimately, I – and so many others – will have to learn to live in a country (like so many throughout the world do) where those in highest power do not hold my values.
  • Ultimately, we will have to come together as the dissidents; the opposition; the ones that believe there is a better option out there.

I wonder; I wonder… What would happen if:

  • What if thousands of teachers refuse to hang his picture because they cannot bring themselves to explain to their students how you reconcile the Office of the Presidency with the words of Donald Trump?
  • What if thousands of bureaucrats catch the ‘bureaucratic flu’ and slow to a crawl the implementation of his draconian rules and regulations?
  • What if the military blatantly refuse to go to war to simply protect his real estate investments overseas?

It is simply as if he appeals to the worst in people as opposed to appealing to the best in people. His warped singular focus on the individual without regards to the collective good is narcissist. His nationalistic focus without a broader understanding of the world in which we live is right down dangerous. His smallness is overwhelming.


On this Thanksgiving Day, we give thanks for the amazing community we call home

On this Thanksgiving Day, we give thanks for the amazing community we call home, Silver Spring (Montgomery County, Maryland.)

In these trying times of rampant negativism and division, exclusion, and disrespect, it is oh so refreshing to come together as a community and affirm the positive values of DIVERSITY, INCLUSION and RESPECT… And that is what we just did last Sunday at Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring to shout out that we will STAND UP, THE MONTGOMERY WAY!

These are not just words of platitudes, shallow words, or simply about singing kumbaya. No. This is about recognizing that at this moment, we need to give thanks for our diversity, give thanks for being inclusive, and give thanks for being respectful. And we want to shout out for everyone near and far to hear: This IS the Montgomery Way!

We are in solidarity with the hundreds of local communities that have in the last couple of weeks manifested similar values so the world can know:

  • We are here to stay. We are not going anywhere.

We are part of the fabric of an empathetic, caring, and – yes – beloved local communities throughout these (dis)United States.

Blair High School Seniors Leading the Community in Call to Action
Blair High School Seniors Leading the Community in Call to Action

*Timed reference below refers to “minute point” at full YouTube video of event

We give thanks for:

Our diverse faith community that prays together for the good of all – at 3:30*

A leader who excels in leading all people in our community  – at 11:10*

An incoming Senator and incoming Congressman and State officials that will be part of an effective opposition – at 12:40*

A Chief of Police that cares about all in the community and knows how to instill a sense of trust – at 20:00*

A School Superintendent that reminds us school is not a place for enforcing immigration laws – at 25:30*

{ My favorite } High school youth that are such a big part of this effort – at 29:00*

A College President that connects with all in innovative ways – even reading a children’s book – at 30:48*

A 9-member County Council that I will put up against any other similar elected body in the U.S.A. as one of the best – at 33:22*

A Jewish community that minces no words about what is going on, and that we are not going back – at 35:14*

A Latino community that knows the seed has been planted and it will grow – at 37:15*

A Federal Secretary of Labor, who happens to be a local neighbor, and knows how to inspire us for what is ahead – at 38:15*

And again: A leader who excels in leading all people in our community – at 43:15*

For this amazing community we give thanks.

We don’t know what the future holds. But we do know that if we remain a diverse, inclusive, respectful community – and stand up for and with each other – we will continue building this hyper-local, vibrant, and thriving beloved community we call home.



Brilliant. The man IS brilliant! (But, pssst: Remember the First Amendment?)

How Trump’s calculated criticism of the established liberal elite institutions works for his empire building and con-game. 

In the last week alone President-elect Trump has managed to criticize three major established institutions of the liberal elite: the arts, entertainment, and press. He has done so publicly, crassly, childishly, unprofessionally, and unbecoming of the Office of the Presidency… (And, he seems to have forgotten – or more likely, conveniently disregarded – the fact that we have a First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of expression.)

> He bashed the cast of one of Broadway’s most successful play ever, Hamilton, for reading an open letter of dissent in front of the Vice-President elect.

> He scolded one of the most successful late night shows ever, Saturday Night Life, for making fun of him in a parody skit.

> He reneged at the last minute and did not meet with one of the most read newspapers ever, the New York Times, exclaiming that they cover him ‘nastly’.

Make no mistake about it: THIS is what awaits us during the Trump Presidency. Any illusions of normalcy, expectability, tradition, or protocol is out the window.

The only constant will be unpredictability. Yet it is a ‘calculated’ unpredictability. In this most recent case, he very intentionally chose three bastions of culture his opponents embrace and his supporters abhore: Broadway, late night t.v., and traditional press.

So be it. We will have to live with it. We certainly don’t have to like it. But, it is what it is.

Clearly we have a President-elect who rather drive wedges into a divided nation feeding the frenzy of his supporters without making any attempt to reconcile with, unite, and reach out to those that voted against him – incidentally: a majority of voters, by at least 1.5 million votes!

We have a choice to make: Withdraw into other worlds, focus on family, follow sports, enjoy nature, go drinking with friends… We can withdraw and live outside the cesspool that is politics, lulling ourselves to believe that it does not impact us; it will not dictate our lives; it will not force us to do something we don’t want to do… (After all, did not the stock market reach a new record high yesterday?)

Yep. We can withdraw… We can cocoon ourselves in our daily struggles and our private pursuits without worrying about the craziness around us, how others are being impacted, or what is happening around the world.

We can become Trump’s zombies. The land of the walking dead. Sleep at the wheel. Enjoying the moment in our own boxed-in, limited universe.

We can choose to be simply annoyed by the childish act of the President-elect, soon to be our President… We can chalk it all up to his ‘way of getting things done’… We can stand by and be amused – if ever so occasionally slightly embarrassed about what he says, the fights he picks, or the appointments he makes… (We can repeat night after night, as if it was our prayer: It really does not impact me. I have work to get done. I have a life to live.)

> Ultimately, you can choose to simply be a most casual observer of this emerging American tragedy.

Frankly, it is kind of easy to withdraw.

If is easy to withdraw if you are part of the seemingly majority of Americans who does not know an undocumented youth who has become a Dreamer after trusting the Federal government and providing all his/her contact information only to now be in the danger of this being his/her last Thanksgiving in the United States because of deportation threats if DACA goes away.

It is easy to withdraw if you are part of the seemingly majority of Americans who have never met a Muslim family, dined with them, conversed about their journey and aspirations.

It is easy to withdraw if you are part of the seemingly majority of Americans who have no clue that your cousin is gay and he/she had to move away from the family because no one would understand – much less accept – them.

It is easy to withdraw if you have never visited predominantly White. poor Appalachia and know the depth of despair of a family who tells you their only saving grace is now being covered by an insurance plan without regards to pre-existing conditions; and is now hearing that small step forward in coverage is about to be rescinded.

It is easy to withdraw if you are part of the seemingly majority of Americans who have never sat down with a woman wrestling with the wrenching decision whether to have an abortion or not; and instead you want to condemn her and send her to jail instead of seeking to implement – and collectively pay for – policies like prenatal care, universal healthcare for newborns, and early childhood education.

It is easy to withdraw if you are part of the American majority that are ok with demeaning the Office of the Presidency and turning it into a play thing for a show-man, a man who has clearly conned the seemingly majority of America.

However, to many of us, withdrawing is not an option.

We will continue using the arts, entertainment, and the press to fight back; to make our point; to disagree and dissent.

You see, there’s this pesky little thing called The First Amendment that we happen to believe in and even the President of the United States of America cannot so easily dismiss.


Of echo chambers and silos

Oh my.

It seems my relentless expressed opposition to President-Elect Trump has led some friends and family to distance themselves from me. A family member sent me this e-mail:

“I was forced to unfollow u on Facebook. I will miss pics of your grandchild n family but as much as I love u I can’t handle your whining diarrhea of political bs. U know how to reach me otherwise n I look forward to seeing u n yours. I pray the serious n severe rift in the family doesn’t grow deeper. God bless America n its most generous people.”


So now we turn only to those with whom we agree. We visit only websites that feed our bias. We visit only with friends and family that are willing partners in building our silos for our ideas.

Too bad.


I happen to proudly live in a community that is very left-of-center. “Progressive”, some may call it.

I work for the local County government, with all elected officials from the Democrat Party. My wife works for the Federal Government, in HIV/AIDS no less – a bastion of progressive thinking. Our community has a very high concentration of people from the ‘do-good industries’: non-profits, federal agencies, progressive think tanks, and the like.

Therefore, my personal exposure is mostly to people that think like me – or at least have similar opinions… Not that we sing kumbaya all the time. Indeed, we can be as dysfunctional, as mean, as outrageous as anyone anywhere…

Yet, there is are certain common outlook on life that most of us spouse binding us together in the community where we live. And, many in our extended family and friends throughout the country (and the world) share similar outlook. But others obviously don’t.

Our outlook is rooted in an understanding of humanity as a positive force. An understanding that most people are good people, regardless of their personal individual experience – and regardless in what part of the globe they live or where they are from.

This outlook is rooted in an understanding that community matters; that caring for each other is a good thing; and that institutions and governments are expected to be participants in doing good.

This outlook is also rooted in an expansive, outward, inquiring approach to life. We don’t know everything. Absolutes are rare – if not non-existent. Data, facts, research – science – help form our outlook. (For some of us, faith and science are not incompatible – they ultimately affirm each other.)

For most of us in this community our outlook is shaped by life experiences that include extensive interaction with people from elsewhere and from across the economic spectrum – either directly or indirectly. Most of us have a life story that have taken us to places beyond our comfort zone, either physically or metaphorically.

And for those in our community that have been around here a long time, for many generations, the outlook is one of welcoming the new people as a positive and constructive ‘value added’ to the community.


This outlook on life is in stark contrast from an outlook on life based on absolutes, simple answers, and strict dogma.

Our outlook on life is in stark contrast of the outlook on life based on experiences where you perceive others have done you wrong, others are getting free rides, and others want to take over.

Our outlook on life is in stark contrast from those who rather hang around only those like them; who don’t think there is anything to be learned from others they did not grow up with or from those that just landed on our shores.


If your outlook on life is based on what others have done to you rather than what you can do for others, then we have different outlook.

If your outlook is framed by hard edges and strictly defined rules, then it is indeed tough for us to talk.

If your outlook is that we need different people seating at the decision-making table rather than – paraphrasing Ike Leggett our County Executive in Montgomery County, MD – what we need is to make the table bigger and invite others that think unlike us to help us make decisions, then we certainly have different outlook.


(Unfortunately, I get the sense that these words are being read by my own echo chamber and silo being created willingly or unwillingly by me and us…)

Regardless, onwards we must go.