Sunday, January 25, 2009


If a tourist asks a Down-easterner from Maine directions, he might be told, “You can’t get they’ah from he’ah.” This phrase was popularized by the infamous Bert and I created by the late Marshall Dodge in the late 50’s. Try to ask anyone what it means and you will get as many answers as respondents. The definition I will use is that “the road you are on won’t take you where you want to go.”

President Obama has a new vision for America but we must understand that the road we are on will not take us where we want to go. The paradigm we cling too will not manifest the new vision. Take a look at the economy. The efforts by former

President Bush were to stay the course and give more money, our money, to the very institutions that generated the crisis. While President Obama seems to have a better grasp of the true nature of problem, we are still talking about giving more money to those same institutions. You simply cannot get economic recovery on that road. Simply put, people do not need more credit. It is the abuse of credit lending institutions that is the genesis of the problem. How is the average American helped if they go deeper into debt? The real problem is that we cannot get rid of our bills because of the high interest rates for credit cards, mortgages, auto loans and the like. You pay and pay but the balance never goes down. This road is a dead end for the consumer.

President Obama’s vision is unattainable if we insist on travelling on a road that will not get us they’ah. Peace in the Middle East will not be achieved by travelling on the same road. We will not have universal health coverage by travelling the same road. We will not manifest the idea of ‘love thy neighbor’ by travelling the worn out religious road. We will not educate our children by travelling the same road. To achieve the new vision we need a new paradigm, a change in the fundamental thought process. The President talked about “worn out dogma.” He gets it. But, do the pundits, economists, educators, health workers, environmentalists or the consumer get it? It is not just a matter of doing business as usual; it is about a whole new business. You can only fix an old car for so long and then it fundamentally breaks down. Pills and wasted surgery will only hold off the pain or disease for so long; then the body breaks down. You can only preach righteousness for so long while you allow genocide, strife and poverty and then the system breaks down. You can talk a good deal about reducing carbon emissions and about alternative energy, but the system is breaking down. The old patches and band-aids are no longer functional, they are worn out and the bleeding is showing on the gauze.

We do not need to talk about sacrifice. That is also a ‘worn out dogma.’ What it really means is that you and I have to suffer while the heads of corporations get bonuses and expensive retreats. The old paradigm says that if you sacrifice, maybe your children will have a better life. Sorry, that worked for several thousands of years, but it is worn out. There are no shortages of money. There are no shortages of ideas. There are no shortages of job potential. There are no shortages of knowledge to convey to our school children. There are only shortages if we believe in them and, the ‘worn out dogma’ wants you to believe in them. That has been their “Secret.”

Just the other day I received in the mail numerous requests by banks offering to give me all kinds of credit. We still see the ads for new cars, pills for scores of new dysfunctions and enticements to invest in this or that fund. Religions are issuing new lists of sins, stirring up old hatreds, and condemning any action that even hints of free choice. This is worn out dogma. Sociologists say we need to break the cycle of poverty. The new paradigm says we need to create a cycle of prosperity. The worn out dogma says we need to preserve the jobs of auto workers. The new paradigm says we need to employ people in new modes of getting people and goods from point ‘a’ to point ‘b.’ The old way is to search for new oil and gas. The new way is to say we need to develop new, sustaining, non-polluting forms of energy. The old way says take a pill. The new way says to focus on a healthy body, mind and spirit. The old way says to go to church every Sunday. The new paradigm says that wherever you are, you are on holy ground.

If we truly want change, we must abandon the old roads. They have taken us to this point, but as any Mainer will tell you, filling the potholes does not last very long. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and tear up the old raid and build a new one because “you can’t they’ah from he’ah.”

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