“Take me to the magic of the moment,
On a glory night,
Where the children of tomorrow dream away,
In the wind of change”—Scorpions
It is often said that we are a product of our time.
I came of age in the 1980s. The ‘80s were “my time”. To provide some context of the things that shaped me, during almost all of my teenage years, Ronald Reagan was President of the United States. The Cold War was ending, but the Soviet Union was considered the evil empire.
One thing I remember about those years is the level of American patriotism. Living in the Midwest, I was in the thick of it. In fact, if I were to try and find the one thing that ties some of my best memories of people, places and things in my childhood, it would be patriotism. All great things were wrapped in red, white and blue. I was taught to believe that America’s interests were always good, just, fair and right. It was black and white. There was Rocky and there was Drago and only one of them was an American. I was also taught that America was considered by the rest of the world to be the place to be, and that when it came down to it, whether you were from Prague or Paris, you longed to be in America.
Then, in the late ‘80s, just as I was “coming of age” and had accepted the status quo, everything changed. The Wall fell. East and West Germans united. The Scorpions had a hit tune that was on every radio station for weeks and weeks and weeks. I remember my commencement ceremony from University. The President, Hunter S. Rawlings, spent most of the time in his speech talking about the incredible events that had occurred over the past four years. Chernobyl, Perestroika, Challenger, Black Monday and the Wall. He told us to prepare ourselves for a world that would be very different than the one we had all become accustomed to, and he was right.
In the succeeding years, the U.S. has fostered new friends as well as enemies. It has swung far left and right politically and has sadly become quite polarized. And while I wholeheartedly give a big nod to Jon Stewart’s recent lampooning of the “lost America of my childhood” brigade, I do believe there is something to be said about how much simpler and positive life is when you believe that where you are is where it’s at.
Recently, I have been fairly outspoken with regards to my views about the need in the U.S. for universal health care. The primary reason for this is that being an Ex-pat in Canada, I’ve seen something different that works better, and I feel the need to advocate for it. Quite frankly, to me, this is just another example of a situation where things have been the same for so long, and a wall just needs to fall.
The comedian Chris Rock was interviewed on David Letterman on April 8th. Regarding healthcare he said, “I feel sorry for the people who were against it. That’s going to be a tough one to explain to your grandkids—well, I just didn’t think everyone should be healthy”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VaFYH18qiM
I’m not much of participator in politics here in Canada. Ideologically, when it comes down to it, the political parties are not all that different here (in U.S. speak, they are all to varying degrees liberal) and other than a standing competition in our neighbourhood about who can get the larger candidate sign in their yard during an election campaign, I haven’t met many people who have a vastly different view of the role of government here in Canada than my view.
In the HR world, when introducing something new at a client, I often have to present a change in process or strategy at a high level or as an over-arching principle and then work to ensure that the processes are dealt with in a practical fashion. If you look at healthcare the same way, you have to see it as an over-arching principle. While I remained concerned about some of the practicals of the new healthcare structure, I think the people have made a decision that will take it down the right path.
When the wall fell in Germany in 1989, it was difficult to imagine a unified country or how the world would change next. With regards to healthcare, let’s do some dreaming about a better tomorrow, and let the practical sort itself out.