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There is almost nothing you can say about the Presidential Debate between Biden and Trump. There is also almost nothing you can’t say about it. For irrelevance, it hit a new low (or is it high?). For mendacity, you can really only imagine – because truth is such an old fashioned concept in political shows. As a debate, they didn’t. As an ad for CNN I thought it rather grubby. As a contribution to the survival of democracy it didn’t even reach the course. As a warning of the imminence of WWIII, it was something we all prayed would never happen.    

What, then, was the good in the wasp’s sting?

A wake up that the issue for the world’s leading advocate of social and economic justice is no longer an individual country’s matter, regardless of how important that country is. The United States has recognised this since the Founding Fathers started developing a constitution. Through two centuries it has led with the American Dream. My mother was part of that, from a German emigree family who settled in the MidWest, built a small town and created a life to inspire everyone. No wonder America became Guardian of the World.

No one country, not even a rich one with a population of some 350 million people, can live today’s World Dream alone. Not even a country with a population nearly four times that size can do so either. Both wake up in the morning to the sunrise. Much as it is the dawn of a new day, they realise that it means the end of life for thousands of fellow human beings every twenty four hours. For others drought, flood, landslip, ruined crops, compromised sewage systems and storms rip the roof off. When the climate takes you on, military weapons become useless.

The word so spectacularly absent from the Biden  / Trump debacle was leadership. Whether we like it or not we are already at war. Apart from the climate, we have wars of words and aggressive trading actions designed to defeat ‘the other side’. Behind all this is a clash of ideologies of how different societies should be allowed to live. Pointless proving the superiority of one belief or philosophy over another if the outcome is death. The matters we dispute are affairs of the mind and heart, not matters of enough to eat or how to live longer and more healthily. They are cries for purpose, for a meaning to life, for an understanding of ourselves.

We have brilliantly invented technology to do some of life’s drudge. Our objective should now be to develop that and make it available to all and to set about the opportunity we have to reinvent ourselves. We have it in our power in the next century to become whatever we want for as long as we want. Wasting resources that will help us achieve that is even sillier than throwing toys out of a pram. None of what I am suggesting clashes with any creed about after life. It is simply a sensible approach to the life we have.

It won’t happen until we have leaders who together see the opportunities and approach us with common sense and calm. We need Generals with strategy not snipers trying to better themselves by being petty. At present our leaders, almost without exception, are inciting us to extremism. And we are responding like the mythical lemmings racing towards suicide.

So where will those leaders come from? Why don’t we have them already?

They come from each and every one of us. We choose them. We put them there. We vote for or tolerate them. They stay there because we condone and support their leadership. We are responsible for today’s appalling leadership of the world. And we put them there because they appealed to the poorer side of our nature, the side that believes winning is a defeat of others not as a success for all.

You may call it collaboration or cooperation but in the One World we have become we must be One People or we shall end up as One Failure. None of us knows if there will be a second chance should the present opportunity fail.

We know that we want neither Biden nor Trump steering the ship.

The rocks are too near to risk it.

Good morning

John Bittleston

If you agree with me please say this – not to me (though you are always welcome to do that) but to each other. We’ve been given the waves so can we now transmit the messages.

29 June 2024