Change is a word loaded with potential, dread, promise, and uncertainty. Change is powerful. Change is scary. Change is hopeful.
As a single word, “Change” became half the anthem (Hope and Change) of President Obama’s 2008 Presidential race. The word was a double-edged sword, cutting both to the positive and to the negative depending on which end of the sword you were standing. Five years later, whether you perceive that any real Change has occurred depends not only on your perception of Change, but also what you thought needed – or did not need – changing.
You hear references to Change in every facet of life eventually. Usually when you least want to deal with it. In the workaday world, Change is often sold as a panacea for everything from sluggish performance to being severely underfunded. In those situations, the attempts to sell Change with its accompanying catch-phrases can be annoying or downright foreboding.
The older you are, the more set in your ways, the more threatening Change can appear.
My perspective on Change is that it is inevitable no matter what your situation or station in life. Never count on anything remaining the same forever; and you can bet, when you find something in your life that is comfortable, enjoyable, or efficiently familiar, it will Change.
My personal demon in Change is the dreaded “Change for the sake of Change“, an underlying mantra in Government and its lecherous bureaucracy. I have experienced change in my Department of Defense job that was simply the result of one person’s hellbent desire to claim Change as part of their legacy, sad as that reality is.
These individuals resort to changing the work paradigm as they head out the door for leisure pastures, leaving those left behind to deal with the consequences. Like the engineering feat required to change the course of a mighty river, they view their ability to make the Bureaucrats bend to their will – even in a small way - as a personal feat of professional strength.
Rarely is such Change viewed favorably. The common reaction being, if it was such a great idea, why didn’t you pursue before you started heading out the door?
And so with that as a background, let’s look at a few examples in the recent news of good Change – bad Change, we Change – you Change. Being a male, my particular interests well-known here, most of these examples involve sports and politics.
Except this one of course …
State Patty’s Day
Authorities in State College, PA, home of Penn State University are offering three dozen downtown bars, restaurants and package stores $5000 subsidies to cut off sales of alcohol during the annual State Patty’s Day celebration. The party weekend, created spontaneously by Penn State students when St. Patrick’s Day fell over Spring break, has become a community nuisance. Excessive drinking, arrests and property damage became such a huge problem that community groups have been joined by the students themselves in seeking solutions to Change the paradigm.
Good Change … Good for the community, for Penn State, for law enforcement, and for the students themselves, But with a price tag of an estimated $180,000., you certainly hope the benefits outweigh the payoffs to be made in the name of peace-of-mind.
Beware the Walmart Mom
Sometimes Change is the result of how one sees their station in life being affected by those in leadership positions. Let us consider the political leanings of the Walmart Moms.
Some might consider the Walmart Mom moniker to be demeaning or perhaps a judgement of economic impotence. But the Walmart Mom has become a political force in recent years. The Walmart Mom has been studied extensively by both political parties as defined as a woman, who shops at Walmart at least once a month and comprises a significant 14-17% of the electorate.
In 2008 Walmart Moms voted for Barack Obama in 2008. In 2010 they switched to support Republicans in the mid-term elections. Then switched back again to support the President’s 2012 re-election.
A small group of Walmart Moms was the subject of a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article. (See above link.) The impression one gets is that the Walmart Mom views politics and the opposing parties from the perspective of how those parties’ politics and policies affect their lives.
The women, who were brought together during the President’s recent State of the Union address, recognized both parties as obstructionist whenever their opposition controls The Oval Office. They prioritized the issues facing them as women and mothers, feeling less supportive of issues like immigration reform and climate change. They support efforts to reduce gun violence.
The recent trend suggests the Walmart Moms could be persuaded to back a coherent Republican message in the 2014 midterms; yet they were baffled as to the current Republican message.
For Republicans, this potential for Change relies on their ability to prove to the Walmart Mom that they have their best interests at heart. At this point, the prospects for persuading the Walmart Moms to switch away from the Democrats has to be scary for the GOP.
Self interest is often the catalyst for Change. If your target audience sees you as no better than the current regime, you never stand a chance.
Appropriate artsy intermission:
Back to our program …
Change can be the source of anxiety, both welcome and foreboding. For examples we need not look any further than our beloved Philadelphia sports teams.
Charlie’s Last Year?
As the Philadelphia Phillies gear up for the 2013 MLB season, many of its fans speculate on whether this season will be Charlie Manuel‘s swan song. His current contract will expire at the end of the season; and at the age of 69, there is much to consider for both Manuel and the Phillies.
The Phillies have been grooming Ryne Sandberg, a Hall of Fame second basemen the Phillies stupidly traded before the 1982 season along with Larry Bowa for Ivan DeJesus (Don’t get me started!), for a shot at a managerial job. The question is … Is Charlie ready to move on?
One would think Manuel might be ready to move up in the organization, but not likely to move on to another managing job. And frankly, it would be an insult to push Manuel out the door, unless of course 2013 turns out to be a down year unrelated to the many injuries the team suffered last season.
In the best of both worlds, Charlie goes out when he’s ready as is worthy of a World Series winning manager; and Ryne Sandberg is still waiting in the wings to take Manuel’s spot as the team’s on-field General.
Provided the upcoming season does not provoke a rash change in Uncle Charlie’s status, Phillies fans should feel good about Manuel moving on, whether it be into retirement or on to an executive opportunity here or elsewhere.
Of course Charlie could decide after the 2013 season that he’s not ready to move off the bench just yet. In which case Change will just have to wait.
Can a Duck help the Eagles?
The team on the other side of Pattison Avenue is facing a situation of an entirely different hue. After 14 seasons of Andy Reid‘s leadership, the Philadelphia Eagles are facing a challenge they have not experienced since the turn of the century.
New head coach Chip Kelly comes from the vaunted University of Oregon Ducks, a team that ran a very up-tempo offense that requires a lot of speed, read and react play by the Quarterback, and the ability to keep defenses off-balance by constantly pressing the offensive attack.
The Change has elicited a set of anxiety reactions in fans that covers just about every facet of play on the field and personnel management off it.
First and foremost is whether Kelly’s high-octane offense can work in the NFL. Indications are that it already is in limited ways on a number of teams, including the New England Patriots and Superbowl contender, San Francisco 49′ers. But the underlying cause for concern revolves around the question of player personnel and their suitability to run Kelly’s fast paced, attack offense.
The level of anxiety gets ratcheted up for some Eagles fans when they consider the prospects of promising, but unproven QB Nick Foles, and even more so when the Eagles decided to re-sign out-of-favor QB Michael Vick.
All you need to turn most Philadelphia Eagles fans into helpless bundles of anxiety riddled meatbags is to throw the above questions into a bowl; stir in huge gaps on the offensive line and the question of how Kelly and new Defensive Coordinator, Billy Davis will remake the team on the defensive side of the ball; and serve over a defensive secondary that at times couldn’t cover a casserole dish.
Finally, Change can be seen as threatening, while at the same time provide a wealth of opportunity.
That Lada … What a cherry ride!
Recently, Christine Armario wrote an article, featured on the Associated Press, about the extreme manipulations Cubans must go through in order to keep the island’s very, very old fleet of long outdated Russian automobiles running. The mainstays of the island’s remaining auto fleet are upwards of 30-year-old, ancient Russian Lada and Moskvich models, for which it’s almost impossible to buy parts.
While it’s hard to fathom a Cuban visitor to Miami having to walk into a certain auto parts store; walking out with a carburetor or a set of brake pads: and having to physically carry back to the home island. It’s even harder to rationalize this country’s continued reluctance to exploit – if you will – a country and a people so ripe for the depth and breadth of opportunities America can provide.
The problem? Well, it’s Cuba!
Long the bane of 1960 Domino Theory on the control of the spread of Communism … Site of President John F. Kennedy’s biggest foreign relations/national security blunder … Home of one of the most ruthless – and oldest – Red revolutionaries … And of course home to hundreds of thousands of Cuban expatriates currently living in the U.S. after leaving Cuba in the decades since the Fidel Castro-led revolution.
But it’s difficult to ignore a Cuba that is very backward in its economy, infrastructure, politics and human rights.
Imagine what a boon to American business to have a country just 90 miles off the coast of Florida as very needy destination for construction services, consumer goods, medical equipment, and technology. Imagine the inroads – now that Fidel is near terminal age – Americans can make in exporting its way of life, political freedoms and social philosophies.
Imagine how grateful the Cuban people, and maybe even the post-Fidel or post-Raul Cuban government might be, especially now that the Russians are no longer as influential internationally as they were two decades ago.
There’s a wealth of opportunity there. But it will require a sea change in public and political perceptions to make it happen.