February 2010

Good Afternoon.

Last month, I discussed the celebrity culture from a certain angle. As you might imagine, each month I receive some very interesting and thoughtful responses. Instead of launching into a new topic, I thought that I would give you a sampling from a few of the responses that came my way. I appreciated them taking the time to make their thoughts known.

Let me know if you have further thoughts on this topic.

Warmly, doug

Your thoughts are accurate and worrisome. Everyone wants to take a shortcut. (BTW, you neglected to mention Sarah Palin or Barak O'Bama.) I worry about it in my children. Perhaps their lives have been too over-indulged and hard work not part of their daily routine. Personally, the lack of fame can be much more comforting since it leaves us free to focus on what is really important. I would rather be loved than be famous.

The only remedy for the celebrity craze is to communicate with our children, explaining in detail, why we value some famous persons and point out those who are a hoax. Kids usually figure people out very quickly- we just need to provide the context.

As it relates to Scott Brown, I worry that he will soon realize that Washington is severely broken and his opportunity to impact the lives of Americans is also a hoax.

Your esteemed famous golfer friend,

McLean, Virginia

Hello Doug!

You have nailed a very important issue. Those of us with long memories will recall the "People" section in TIME magazine. In their market research it was identified as the "most read" section of time. That is 36 years ago, 1885 covers. I share your concern about the "cult of personality," and the seeming utter disregard for substance.

Sam Nunn is one of my heroes. I have heard his thoughtful reflections here in Aspen at Institute events. I don't know how you feel, but U.S. Supreme Court ruling that businesses can spend as much as they want on political campaigns is akin to ruling that business can buy government. Already the K Street Mafia have far too much influence.

Your point that Brown is fresh and unproven, yet pundits ask such stupid questions. It is ridiculous. We have such a total mess in our government that I doubt there will be an acceptable recovery in my lifetime. I am not a pessimist, yet understand just how difficult it is to get genuine, bi-partisan collaboration to solve the nation's critical issues.

I definitely believe that the U.S. has lost its competitive edge in the world. Someone opined that the only remaining competitive edge we have left is the ability to feed the world.

I think I will go X-C skiing and think of other things.

I look forward to PN meeting in NYC.

With warm regards and good wishes,

Basalt, CO

Hi Doug Holladay,

Writing from glorious Lyons, CO. From time to time my Dad forwards along your various musings - and I just wanted to weigh-in here and offer my deep appreciation for naming your concern on the issue of the celebrity culture politician - and the implications for what this suggests for our future. Couple the ignorant, ambitious politician with the mission of an amoral, well greased corporate lobbyist, and you really have created a perfect Frankenstein (or runaway freight train) of a political system - overrun by pure corruption - and now affirmed by the Supreme Court.

I see where the far left is now calling for Obama's head - and the far right is calling for Obama's head. And they both have their own ideologies for what being a "Patriot" means - and what a revolution would look like and accomplish - and it all seems like a perfect set up for a civil war to me. They each have all the ammo they need to blame the other. I confess I have an almost morbid curiosity about the state of our nation as it degenerates into what I fear is certain self-implosion. And I read with great interest the various books suggesting we are headed towards possible/probable collapse. From Jared Diamond to Pete Peterson - there is plenty of grounded, sober historical and current macro-demographic information available to tell a miserable story for what lies in store.

Back in 2005, James Fallows wrote an extremely clever, compelling article in The Atlantic entitled, Countdown to a Meltdown (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200507/fallows) - and in it he offers a fictional account of how it might come to pass that by 2016 a new political party could emerge that represents a true grassroots movement for wholesale political change. Several years ago, I had an opportunity to spend some time with Robert Reich, and I asked his thoughts with regards to the possibility for a new political party to emerge that could deconstruct the mess we are in, and offer some evolved form of government. And sadly, he said he did not think it was possible. So a year later I was with him again - and again I challenged him on this same question. And he offered a different response. He said that the only way it could happen would be as an "epiphenomenon" of some other form of popular movement.

At the risk of sounding like some lunatic dreamer, and yet as a father of a 3 year old and a 1 year old, I spend an inordinate amount of my time trying to imagine how such a popular movement could galvanize and organize. What would be its calling card? How might it inspire and elevate the collective imagination? And please let me offer my apology for the presumptuous tone of this correspondence - but you are literally the only Washington "insider" I know - and I imagine you are one of only a very few, who operate from their heart. So my question for you is this - do you have any insights or thoughts on how such a movement might come to pass - and what might its components consist of? While there is ample information available for what is wrong, I am searching for a road map for how we might change course. And certainly someone smarter than me has begun to map it. If you have the time, I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

I hope this message finds you well, and I look forward to following your future musings more closely. Please add me to your e-mail distribution list.

Peace and blessings,

Lyons, CO

An excellent piece. Just a few words about your question how to understand our culture today and how to stay grounded.


Lack of Trust

How to stay grounded:

Periodic media fasts
Laugh at yourself
Seek solitude and silence
Want what you need
Embrace the present moment
Work on a PhD in Gratitude
Define your meaning and purpose
Listen often speak if needed
Reflect on your life daily
Get restful sleep

The latter list I stole from the life of Jesus and his followers.

Even the media fast they exhibited from the major media of their day--religious and political organizations.

Columbus, OH


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