Expectations are treacherous. They are founded upon intangible qualities such as belief, trust or hope. Failed expectations brings frustration or despair upon those holding the expectations, and the pressures of anger and guilt upon those who are the recipients of expectation.
However, expectations are a very powerful and positive motive force. This is particularly true when the expectations are shared between those expecting, and the person who is expected to do, or to be. If this person raises the expectations of others as a manipulation to gain their support, failure for all is inevitable. If the purpose is fully revealed, in the full light of day, expectation provides a focus for the energies of all people involved. With open and honest, two-way communication, hopes can become reality through the galvanizing bond of shared expectations and withstand peripheral forces that might seek to thwart their fulfillment.
For change as we would have it, and was promised, much work lies ahead. Writing a check to banks and industry is easy. Spewing rhetoric, nothing more than a dull hypnosis to which most of us have grown immune. Partisan fighting, simply a tired smoke screen, reflecting an old class war that the rich already won, many years ago. We have expectations. Not just of our President, but of all our government officials and civil servants. We have expectations toward each other. For something new. For something better. For something that can create good for us all.
Early last year I wrote a piece on Presidential powers, their abuse, and their potential for abuse. In it, I mention Executive Order 13233 which Bush issued in 2001. In this order, Bush required that any President after him would need to have his approval before releasing any of his presidential records. Though seemingly unreported, President Obama ripped up this order from Bush last week in one sentence of his Executive Order 13489 which says:
Sec. 6. Revocation. Executive Order 13233 of November 1, 2001, is revoked.
Obama’s Executive Order relating to presidential records states that former Presidents can claim Executive Privilege for any of their documents, but that, in essence, the current President is the only one who can extend that privilege. This includes, specifically, vice presidential records as well.
This is definitive action, which follows rhetoric along the same lines, where Obama states “Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information, but those who seek to make it known.”
And rather than carrying on the tradition of Bush’s presidency which so often overreached its authority and powers, Obama has bowed to the rule of law. “I will also hold myself, as president, to a new standard of openness…. Information will not be withheld just because I say so. It will be withheld because a separate authority believes my request is well-grounded in the Constitution.”
“Let me say it as simply as I can. Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”
This is extraordinary good news to me, and ought to be good news to everyone. Silence and secrecy is the hallmark of despots. Though occasionally necessary, Obama recognizes that everything in our people’s government must be presumed available to the public unless demonstrated otherwise, in the in strictest of terms. We can also see his new and refreshing philosophy at work in memorandum issued to government agencies on the Freedom of Information Act:
“The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails. The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears. Nondisclosure should never be based on an effort to protect the personal interests of Government officials at the expense of those they are supposed to serve. In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies (agencies) should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public.”
It will unfortunately require a good deal more effort to, at last, bring the principles of “sunshine in government” to fruition. The government is vast, populated with civil servants who are both entrenched within the presumed value of their own positions and cynical about any possibility of goodness prevailing. Most do not recognize that they are employed as servants of We the People, but instead are government employees. Our expectation is that the United States government will be returned to the people, and not just a few people. Our expectation is that our government will exist, as it was meant to be: for Us.
Obama will undoubtedly need our help. But we would be wrong to give it blindly. These Democrats now have complete control, just as they cried for. Now, there is no place left for blame. I move exclusively to alternative party candidates upon their failure. I have expectations that must be met. There is little hope in me. However, hope may come, if expectations start reaching fulfillment. So you might say, I hope to find the potential for hope.
This is a very good beginning. We should not let our expectations waiver. We should use them to empower people who actually do seek change for the better. We live in peculiar times, where raw science must play an increasing role, alongside a more potent sense of our own humanity and goodwill. The greatest power is the collective power of us all. The individual selfishness of totalitarian rulers, czars, purely fiscally-based corporate interests and a ruling class is moving into decline, through natural processes. It will not go quietly. It will take time, and a concerted effort.
As an example for many of these concepts, you might like to read through the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff’s document on Space Operations released, sort of, just days ago. It represents a new and boundless frontier, above the incidental borders of the world, and how our government’s military arm, which is quite influential, is viewing it. It is not altogether bad. In one breath they speak of helping people through detailed satellite imagery, and in the next breath, protecting US interests in space through, “deceive, disrupt, deny, degrade, or destroy”. We face interesting and complex challenges. But it is on the ground, amidst each of us, from all over the world, that we must determine the best future for us all.
I do not believe I am being hopeful when I say that everyone wants the best for both themselves and for everyone else, in their heart of hearts. The problems arise from the compromises we are willing to make, in following ideals, that do not align with our humanity. Do we have the strength of character to stop compromising humanity for the sake of our own self-interest, or gain? Can we expect others to stop, if we are not willing, ourselves, to stop?
Philosophy is coming home, to roost, on each of our doorsteps. Perhaps this is because we now enjoy an intelligent President. Or perhaps it’s because we, ourselves, have gained an intelligence and insight, unexpectedly and unlooked-for, and this new President is merely a manifestation of a more profound understanding of our world, that we each have discovered.
Eyes wide open, my darlings. Feet to the flames. And pitchforks on the ready. Listen. Speak. And be heard. Know that your heart is as important as your head. Don’t fear embarassment or failure. Fear silence. Then dispel it with light.