Like most people, I am hopeful at the beginning of a new year that this year will somehow be different…be better than the last. Yet it doesn’t take long for the reality to set in that hope is fleeting and arguably foolhardy. This new year of 2016 is no exception. China’s struggling economy continues to adversely impact the overall global economy. Escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran further destabilize a region that is already a hot mess and will continue to get worse as oil prices remain low. On the home front, armed militiamen commandeered the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon protesting perceived federal government injustices. Sadly, we didn’t get too far out of the gate in 2016 before the past started rearing its ugly head in the future.
China’s struggling economy should come as no surprise. I’m by no means an economic expert but even I knew it was a matter of when and not if the wheels would come of their economy. Years of exaggerated expectations and data manipulation have finally caught up to a country that can no longer sustain the bubble that they created for themselves. Who will pay for this…only the entire world! While globalization has opened up unprecedented options for wealth, the reality is being connected comes at a price. When one falters, we all take a bite of the big poop sandwich. Some just take a bigger bite than others.
In China’s defense, they have succumbed to the same illogical mentality that every other developed nation has experienced and still experiences. In business, you are only successful if you improve upon the previous year. It is a very linear (and destructive) mentality because realistically continued upward mobility is impossible to maintain. What goes up must (and does) come down. History has proven this over and over and yet too few pay attention. Business is cyclic, and until today’s business world adapts its mentality towards a cyclic economy, the world’s intertwined economies will continue to suffer.
Anyone who has read any of my previous blogs knows that I am no fan of the Middle East. I believe that region is the butt crack of the world. Centuries of Islamic ideology and inept secular/religious leaders have resulted in an entire region of this planet that continues to fall further and further behind in today’s modern world. This belief is further reinforced by the latest tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran over Saudi Arabia’s execution of cleric Nimr al-Nimr.
While Nimr al-Nimr’s execution is the latest spark in the never-ending sea of sparks that keeps this region in a constant state of turmoil, it highlights a bigger problem. As the world struggles on whether or not to accept Muslim refugees into their countries, the question must be asked: If you can’t even get along with those that are similar to you in culture and faith, how can you be trusted to get along with others in countries of dissimilar cultures and faith?
It’s a serious question and one that is not being asked enough. Once reason why is due to the anti-Muslim backlash that resulted from the massacre in Paris, France and the murders in San Bernardino, California. Since those cowardly attacks, in seems anyone who expresses any kind of concern about Muslim refugees entering their home countries have been conveniently lumped into the tidy little label of being an “Islamophobe”. According to the Oxford Dictionaries website, “Islamophobia” is defined as, “Dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force.” It’s a very broad definition. While it provides a convenient means to label everyone that questions the intent of the culture and religion, its broadness misses the true point.
That point is trust. Nimr al-Nimr’s execution further highlighted a people that cannot get along with even those of similar culture and faith. As a result, I personally cannot trust that these same people will get along with others of dissimilar cultures and faith. That does not make me an “Islamophobe”. That makes me a “realist”. What is also realistic is the fact that things will only get worse in the Middle East. Low oil prices will only exasperate a people and culture that is already behind the times due to its religious ideologies and inept leadership. Oil made the Middle East “something”. Without it, that region becomes nothing. This means even greater, and more violent, attempts will be made to stave off the Middle East’s inevitable irrelevance in today’s modern world. Who will pay for this…only the entire world!
How ironic is it in light of President Obama’s recent attempts to enact stricter gun control laws in the United States that an armed militia commandeers a federal wildlife refuge? Sadly, this event illustrates just how ineffective more stringent gun control laws truly are. No matter how hard we make it for individuals to possess a firearm, those that want one will find a way either legally or illegally to get one. Chances are, the soldier wannabe’s currently holed up at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge obtained their guns legally. How many homicides are committed in the United States by those using illegally obtained firearms? The stark reality is, gun control is not the answer to what ails this country’s violent ills. Gun control only serves to make it harder for the law abiding citizens of this country to possess a firearm.
Many claim the United States has a “gun” problem. This country does not have a gun problem. The United States has a “people” problem. We have become a self-entitled people that believe we have the right to do and say whatever we wish whenever and however we wish…no matter how adversely it affects others. Sadly there are those, like the militiamen occupiers in Oregon, which take this belief to an even deadlier level by utilizing guns to be seen and heard. As it stands now, too few people in this country feel they should take responsibility for their actions when they react to perceived injustices. The answer to rectifying this country’s “people” problem lies in making people accountable for their actions. Personally, regarding the soldier wannabe’s in Oregon, I believe accountability for these people’s illegal actions can be found via a couple of low level “training” strafing passes from an A-10 “Warthog”.
Like most people, I was hopeful at the beginning of 2016 that this year would somehow be different…be better than the last. Yet, the events that have already transpired suggest this year, like many to come, will be challenging. This is not to say good things won’t happen. This is not to say there will not be good people out there doing good things. However, the reality is these good things will occur within the backdrop of a struggling global economy. Upheaval will continue within an area of the world whose culture and religion has no qualms about spreading violence throughout this world. Closer to home, domestic threats will be the bane of all because of the few that believe that because their lives matter, they can take inappropriate and/or illegal action without fear of retribution or accountability for their actions.