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Keeping Today's US In Perspective
by John Jazwiec

My favorite comedian is Chris Rock. Why? His comedy - like George Carlin - is funny, uses a discipled wordsmith technique, and provides a snap shot of society and history like Carlin. One of his most poignant jokes, is the following, and I paraphrase - 

"Dead African-Americans in the 1960s - looked down from heaven on living African-Americans in the 1960's - said 'they had it good'. Turning water hoses on African-American children is just white people trying to be nice ..."

I have watched a plethora of historical documentaries over the last year. There was PBS's American Experience: The Great War (World War I), a re-watch of Ken Burns "World War II" and his latest, "The Vietnam War". 

Although we are not out of the woods by far, and I am embarrassed by the state of our country against its ideals, it's hard to argue that progress trends-upward, but not in a straight line.

The Great War shows Woodrow Wilson's retrograde treatment of African-American civil servants, barring them from relatively gainful employment. His tyrannical use of state-sponsored propaganda and thug squads to ensure no resistance to the entry of the US into World War I. His contempt for women. And his hypocrisy on pro-immigration; using the same people as cannon fodder. The Great War - again - shows immigrants, people of color, and indigenous Indians as heroes, willing to serve, with the hope of being accepted, and sadly, largely disappointed but making some progress. 

World War II shares most of the many cons and few pros of progress as World War II. Japanese internment camps with the backdrop of Japanese heralded soldiers is both disgusting and inspiring. Again, the African-American internal belief that service in the military would lead to progress when they got home is tragic and breaks one's heart. Basic civil rights being suspended - by another old-school Democrat - make the current GOP, look progressive if non-duplicitous.

The "daddy" of perspective is "The Vietnam War. A country on the brink of a real revolution. More people of color as protagonists. A Japanese-American - of internment roots - a hero. The first prison of war - a Mexican-American - enduring the longest captivity (eight and one-half years!). Professional military personnel dissing policy, while attaining future professional status. The con/pro of duality, between people of color leading, while being degraded, is relatively depressing. But it nonetheless moved a 1 out of 10 to a 2 out of 10.

But 1968 - 1972, with the riots, the arrests, the violence, the lying presidents ... well it makes calling today "the biggest threat to our democracy" seem out of context. Even, Charlottesville - as ugly and repulsive of a scene as I have watched - looks tame compared to Kent State.

Yet within 36 years of all of this horror, America elected, twice an African-American, as president. It was always going to be a two-step forward, reactionary-one-step backwards event. Trump is as much of a product of Obama, as the GOP was a product of Wilson. 

Trump and his supporters? That just the 21st century version of "white people trying to be nice ...". Better than World War I. Better than World War II. Better than the Vietnam War. Worse than Grant Park? Yes. 

But today, bears little resemblance to history. Just more 1.1 steps forward followed by 1 step backwards. But over time, the 0.1s add up. Current news doesn't put it into context. But history does.


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From athletic scholar and satirist to computer programmer to CEO success, John Jazwiec brings a unique and often eccentric perspective to business and supply chain challenges. Exploring how they can be solved through the leadership and communication insights found in untraditional sources. This CEO blog demonstrates how business insights from books on history to the music of Linkin Park can help challenge and redefine “successful leadership.” Read Jazwiec’s Profile >>

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