Category Archives: Positive Thinking

Statement of Work

Created June 11, 2021

This is an SOW for the human race. It’s really an urgent request.

You see, it’s difficult to see something that is gigantic. Your mind has an automatic program for suppressing cognitive dissonance, especially during Acceleritis.

This is not any less threatening than all of those movies. This is the oncoming reality of those scary movies.

It’s time for each of us to stand up and pitch in.

Putting aside the petty grievances of the past.

This part is for philanthropists:

Think outside the box, it’s not business as usual right now.

Old reliable methods may need to be set aside during the emergency.

Where can your gifts do the most good?

After putting out the fires of old rivalries, Job Number One will be something like

  1. Bring all people in the world up to the current national average household income in the USA
  2. Do it respecting their desire to work for it, make fair deals, family education covered
  3. This is greenfield economic opportunity for everyone, if we go cold turkey on our addiction to dystopian expectations

In other words, if you can imagine for a second that the human addiction to violence might disappear suddenly, without having to think about that all the time, the development of the underdeveloped would be the natural magnet. That’s where the growth rate will be the most impressive, good for stock prices.

Only the violence and the addictive tendencies of the mind separate us, the human race, from stepping across the great divide, into seeing our wholeness, our connectivity, our oneness.

But if we could all be given that vision, wear that lens, for ten minutes, we would ask so what are we going to do instead? And self-realizing that there are excitingly vast possibilities in a future in which we can get along without hate, overt or covert.

The planet needs a lot of work, let’s get it organized and start to put it back together better than it ever was.

A Trace of Hot Tub Diplomacy in The Air

Created April 23, 2021

*Thank you Mr. President for a balanced and meticulously thought out approach at a time when others are losing their heads. In addition to my donations I’ve attempted to send you helpful ideas. Here are the links to the articles that hopefully someone on the staff can review, assess, and do whatever is decided with.*

My wife Lalita emailed me “What happened to the hot tub?” when the latest U.S. sanctions were announced. That’s her way of referring to my recent columns envisioning a scene of détente among the leaders of the three superpowers.

I, too, felt disappointed when reading the headlines. I had hoped that the necessary wrist slaps would be presented differently than in the past, whether due to my ideas trickling up to the Oval Office or not. None of the headlines gave me any inkling that we were not still locked in the same mindsets as during the Cold War.

But things became more nuanced when I read the full reportage. President Biden’s televised remarks on April 15 sound a lot to me like the reasonable, moderate voice I gave my fictional Joe:

“We cannot allow a foreign power to interfere in our democratic process with impunity,” President Biden said in remarks announcing the sanctions on Thursday. He said he “was clear with President Putin that we could have gone further,” and that wanted a “stable, predictable relationship” with Russia.

“Now is the time to de-escalate,” Mr. Biden said. “Where there’s an interest for the United States to work with Russia, we should and we will.”

(The above as reported by CBS News)

The sanctions had been carefully measured to serve as a signal, to be more than merely symbolic, yet to limit the degree of pain caused to the Russian people. To make it clear that we will not be pushed around, nor will we over react, but we will be true to our word and not back off if transgressed against.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan summarized the President’s remarks to Mr. Putin in their April 13 telephone call this way:

“He said, ‘I told you that I was going to look into this, I made a determination that Russia has, in fact, conducted these actions. And I’m a man of my word, I am going to respond. But I’m not looking to escalate, I’m looking to provide proportionate responses. And I believe that it is in our interest to find a stable and predictable way forward in this relationship.'”

(The above as reported by The Guardian)

The measured nature of the sanctions is obvious to economists in that the move prevents U.S. financial institutions from participating in the primary market for ruble and non-ruble denominated debt after June 14, but does not affect the secondary market. Yet these U.S. actions also communicate that the line in the sand can be moved further depending upon how Russia responds.

Did my recent posts reach President Biden, or have he and his advisors followed a parallel path and reached similar conclusions to my own?

Perhaps God is talking to him, and I am somehow permitted to eavesdrop.

To me the most hopeful sign is that the President, while taking necessary action under the circumstances, simultaneously proposed a face to face meeting between himself and President Putin.

“President Biden reaffirmed his goal of building a stable and predictable relationship with Russia consistent with U.S. interests, and proposed a summit meeting in a third country in the coming months to discuss the full range of issues facing the United States and Russia,” the White House readout of the call said.

The readout went on to say that the two leaders “discussed a number of regional and global issues, including the intent of the United States and Russia to pursue a strategic stability dialogue on a range of arms control and emerging security issues, building on the extension of the New START Treaty.”

(The above as reported by CBS News)

Perhaps the fictional scenario I outlined is going to take place in stages.

They also have hot tubs in Cannes.

Keep a positive thought.

Best to all,

Bill

Turning a New Page in History

Created April 9, 2021

taken by Robert Brett

When they finally turned in, Joe, Vlad and Jinping had slept well, dreaming of better days ahead.

A limo brought them down to Pfeiffer Beach just before sunrise. Although the air was brisk and the water cold, the three went for morning swims. By the time they were in beach chairs swaddled in terrycloth robes, Secret Service men and women brought them Ramos Gin Fizzes helicoptered down from the Buena Vista bar in San Francisco, Joe’s without the alcohol.

To the sandpiper looking at them from the water’s edge, they somehow looked like FDR, Churchill and Stalin at Yalta, Joe sitting in the middle as FDR had done at Yalta. But the sandpiper knew nothing of such things.

Joe made sure his hands were dry before picking up his tablet.

“I want to read you something,” he said with a mischievous smile, “See if you can tell who said these things.” They looked back with amusement.

“We should foster a new type of international relations featuring ‘win-win cooperation’,” Joe read, “and we should forge a partnership of dialogue with no confrontation, and a partnership of friendship rather than alliance. All countries should respect each other’s sovereignty, dignity and territorial integrity; respect each other’s development path and its social systems, and respect each other’s core interests and major concerns… What we hope to create is a big family of harmonious coexistence.”

Joe looked at them expectantly. Vlad just shook his head. “Obama?” he guessed.

“I said that,” Jinping recalled clearly, “in 2017 at the Belt and Road Forum.”

“Very much the spirit of what we discussed yesterday,” Joe observed, and both men cautiously nodded.

The sun appeared over the mountains. They watched it rise.

“Hexagram 35,” Joe said, referring to the I Ching. Hexagram 35 is Progress, the rapid easy progress of the sun rising in the sky, symbolizing ever widening expansion and clarity.

Jinping nodded. “A lot of wisdom in it. The culmination of Chinese learning over millennia.”

“What did you mean by ‘a partnership of friendship rather than alliance’?” Vlad asked Jinping.

“Alliance is generally a defensive maneuver,” Jinping posited. “NATO formed in fear of Russia, for example. Alliance means we will stand by you if you are attacked. If we create the right world, alliances will be unnecessary.”

“That will require trust,” Joe pointed out. “We three are self-disciplined and can therefore adapt faster than the average person. Most people will be cynical when they read about this meeting, and will take a lot of convincing over time. They will judge by our actions. Events will conspire to make it as hard as possible for us to stick to what we have been discussing.”

“That sounds very realistic,” Vlad murmured.

“When you said ‘All countries should respect each other’s sovereignty, dignity and territorial integrity’, how would you relate that to Taiwan?” Joe asked politely.

“We are one people,” Jinping said. “The island you call Taiwan is occupied by the losers of the Chinese Civil War. Imagine if the Confederacy fled to an island close to the American mainland. What would you do?”

“But those people do not want to be reunited, they like being sovereign, as all people do,” Joe pointed out. “Your own words seem to confirm that you agree with this principle.”

“The real world is very messy,” Vlad commented. “Principles are fine in abstract philosophizing, but every situation in life is unique, and cannot be solved by a simple set of pre-established rules.”

“If your Most Favored Nation offer requires us to not secure our territorial integrity, it’s not going to last very long, and then we’re back where we were before yesterday’s unusual meeting,” Jinping said darkly.

“The way to feel secure is to have ‘friendship rather than alliance partnerships’ with all your neighbors, isn’t that your point?” Joe suggested.

“Although I can’t imagine you lose sleep worrying that anyone is going to invade China,” Vlad teased Jinping.

“My recommendation is that you just put on hold your recent initiatives in the South China Sea, Hong Kong, and so on, and give us a chance to work together to solve the universal problems threatening our entire species,” Joe said. “You can resume them at any point you decide that they are more important than conquering mutating viruses, environmental collapse, world debt, suffering, fear, hate, and all of the crises we’ve brought on ourselves, and can most swiftly solve by our ‘partnership of friendship’.”

“I make no promises here and now,” Jinping said slowly, “but will consider carefully what you’ve said. I think we have made some real progress toward the ability to communicate clearly with each other.”

“Yesterday you enunciated four things your scenario planners say are the keys to working together,” Vlad began, addressing Joe. “Elbow room, offending the sensibilities of other nations, not making aggressive moves against each other, and how we the superpowers deal with everyone else.” Joe nodded, and Vlad went on. “What’s your definition of ‘aggressive moves’?”

“Fooling with each other’s media, stirring up troublemakers in each other’s country, having them enlist in the military in order to gain training and combat experience, reinforcing their authoritarian notions, outright attacks of course,” Joe paused, thinking if he had missed anything.

“Give all that up… I can’t work under those conditions,” Vlad said sternly and then smiled, admitting he was merely joking. “You know I don’t believe we have been doing any of those things, and in any case am happy to promise you that we will abide by these limitations going forward. But what about spying on each other? Is that going to be classified as an ‘aggressive move’?”

“No,” Joe said, “my advisors talked me out of that. Spying has been considered okay for the entire history of the human race. I would hope that once our actions have led to real trust in the world – God knows how long that will take us, but we must go there – our motivation to spy on one another will go way down.”

“What did you mean by ‘elbow room’?” Jinping asked.

“Expansionist moves usually come from the sense that one does not have enough land to contain one’s growing population,” Joe replied. Both men shook their heads. They both control enormous land masses, and see themselves as having population growth pretty much under control. “I see your point gentlemen, that one need not trouble us. I think we’ve discussed all of the points now except the one about everyone else in the world,” Joe said.

“What would you have us do about them?” Vlad asked.

“They of course deserve the same treatment we are promising each other,” Joe said, and the two men reluctantly nodded. “And they need help more than we do. We have to make sure they get the vaccines as soon as possible. That will prove that the three of us are serious and will begin the healing back of trust in the world.” They seemed to accept that notion but said nothing.

“Let’s go back to the elbow room thing,” Vlad said. “Most of the population growth is coming from everybody else, and eventually it’s going to get to be a very crowded world. For that reason, as well as a hedge against failure to cure the environment, and need for more natural resources, not to mention the positive effect on science and technology, we must continue our exploration of space.”

“I urge us to do that, together,” Joe agreed. “By combining forces, we can drive our science and technology much faster. We should not be in a space race against each other, nor should we picture colonizing planets in the name of one country who got there first. If the planet does not have a sentient race, we should feel free to live there without harming any species or the environment itself, as one humanity, not as countries.”

The other two men merely gaped at these ideas, taking them in, not prepared to argue against them, but reserving severe doubts.

“You know,” Joe said, “these apparent spacecraft that have been observing us, have far more advanced technology than we do.” Their eyes widened. Talking about UFOs had been tabu for years. “They may be concerned about us coming into space. We may appear to them to be warlike and immature. We don’t know if they represent a threat to us. One way or the other, we have to start thinking of ourselves as one humanity, for a long list of good reasons, real threats like mutating viruses and carbon dioxide, as well as possible threats that have not yet shown themselves.”

“Can’t rule anything out,” Jinping murmured. “But I for one am more concerned about corrupt people, terrorists foreign and domestic, and suggest we focus on the known problems.” Joe and Vlad nodded.

“You know the ‘bad guys’ among us are so very numerous,” Joe said, “Trying to violently exterminate them would make the world a far more horrible place than it is now. We have to uplift them out of their wrongheaded ideas.”

“That is very consistent with Chinese philosophy, as you have recently studied I believe,” Jinping observed, addressing Joe, who smiled agreement.

“Russian philosophy has always been multicolored,” Vlad said, “and leans toward integration with science and religion. We are very practical, we want to embody our philosophy directly into our daily lives. I was impressed yesterday with your ideas about training the most lost of our people. Turning that into real world experiments is an interesting challenge to tackle together, among the three of us, and with everyone else.”

There was a moment of soft silence and a feeling of momentary harmony. Joe stood up. “One last swim before we go back?” he proposed, and the two men stood up eagerly.

Our story does not end here. You can follow the story as it evolves in the real world.

Best to all,

Bill

Sanctions at the Sanctuary

Created April 1, 2021

(This is Part Two of our story Part one)

At Esalen Sanctuary, the sky was turning purple although the sun was not quite to the ocean.

Joe had just lobbed his bombshell proposing an ongoing triangular conversation working together toward permanent relief of friction. All three were now using the jets on their backs and allowing their minds to roam. Strangely, all of them were picturing their own citizens living in a happy world. Vlad and Jinping were mentally commenting cynically to themselves but allowing the positive images to flow.

Joe broke the silence. He was the one who came with a playbook so he kept the conversation going. The two guests were in listening mode, not wanting to give aid and comfort to the enemy but to conduct a thorough reconnaissance.

“Please don’t think of me as an enemy,” Joe said. “Despite the harsh words I used, you know I highly respect you both, and especially your intelligence. We are in this together. In a lifeboat. And we three are responsible for the lives of billions of people – everybody on Earth. If we choose to see through the lens of ‘enemy’, the world is headed for terminal disaster, it would just be a matter of time. We have to see through the lens of ‘fellow human beings, trying our best to do what is right.’”

“Ah, but what is right?” Jinping interjected.

“We’re all trying to make life better for our people,” Joe said, “just going about it differently. Three people as smart as us better be able to figure it out or we all lose the game.” Joe realized he hadn’t answered the question. “What’s right for you might not be what’s right for me, so we figure out a workaround that all sides can live with without having to hold our noses.”

“I sometimes tire of broad generalities,” Vlad said somewhat apologetically and the other two weren’t sure he was being ironic, “Can you give a specific example of what you’re proposing?”

“Sure,” Joe said, his face telling the other two that Joe was going to be loaded for bear with examples. This would be interesting and perhaps advantageous to Vlad and Jinping.

“Sanctions are not the right mechanism,” he went on, receiving instant nods of agreement. “They are distasteful, add to the friction instead of relieving it, harm the world economy and create a death spiral for trade, and when used to try to coerce a nation to show more apparent concern for human rights, so far they have failed 100%.” The other two nodded more emphatically.

“They also give us an unfair advantage,” Joe added.

The two were baffled that an adversary would reveal a non-obvious advantage – giving away the element of surprise – and what was he talking about anyway?

“Not clear to me what you mean,” Vlad responded, and Jinping shook his head.

“Your people want our brands more than our people want your brands,” Joe said, looking at Jinping. “It’s been the marketing – now we are all equals in that – but we had a long lead time.”

“So please spell out how you see that working to your advantage,” Jinping requested.

“It spirals downward unless we switch to other methods. First the American people decide to boycott Chinese products, then China does the same to us. Our people are not much troubled, pay some higher prices, start to rebuild manufacturing on shore. China’s people do without, but many traffic black market American goods, causing internal strife and criminalizing large numbers of otherwise law-abiding people – especially the young.” Joe later realized he should have stopped there but the words which sprang into his mind were new to him so he spoke them aloud, as if musing to himself: “American media have shaped a world youth culture which is now evolving to be a true intermixed world culture – they are leading us to be one family…”

Vlad thought he’d gone off the rails, and Jinping interrupted with a bit of momentary anger: “Yes but you and your media are raising unrealistic expectations we’re never going to fulfil!”

“We are clearly more optimistic than you are,” Joe admitted. “We strive to be idealistic realists. Like both of your cultures, we come up with lots of new ideas all the time, and this fact encourages us to be optimistic. Challenges make us use our creativity at peak levels. Especially if we three achieve global cooperativeness in this creative process, there’s reason to put away the pessimism. Optimism – pessimism – the world is what we make it. Especially we three – we’ve wound up with the power to end the world or to remake it so that it does work, everywhere, to everyone’s benefit – together, we’re smart enough to accomplish that.””

“No,” Vlad disagreed, “there are billions of people out there who put the lie to any optimistic theory. The dregs of the Earth, billions of them, people that we three would never spend one minute with. In Russia and China, we keep these people in line and try our best to bring them up from their animal level of thinking. In democracies those people have the same vote that you have Joe. You have teams of the best people on the planet advising you, but a bowery bum has the same weight as you do in the voting.”

“Your idea of democracy is what we call ‘naïve democracy’,” Jinping jumped in. “To anyone with common sense, to anyone who has studied history as reported by all sides, it’s insane to try to do democracy the way the West has been trying to do it. We consider our type of democracy superior because it works efficiently. We call ours ‘realistic democracy’. When you try to lecture us about human rights and so on, we are insulted because we believe we have bypassed you in political science.”

Vlad quoted H. L. Mencken, “Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.”

“Whoa – hold up guys,” Joe held up his hand and smiled at them, “We have a different theory about the folks that Mencken called ‘plain people’. It’s a two-part theory. Part One is that we train them to be people we would be happy to spend a few minutes with, people who can support themselves and contribute to society. We’re calling this “individualized education” because Part Two of the idea is to find out what life’s work each person would love to do, and make it possible through training and information.”

The two guests looked at each other. Again, Joe had given them information he would have been smarter to withhold and use for American interest first before giving it away to competitors, who because of the efficiency of their governments, could put ideas to work faster.

Joe smiled at them as if reading their minds. He had been coached what to expect. “I look forward to seeing your experiments and learning from them. The more we test and learn everywhere – given the glass houses we all live in – the faster we all grow up.”

“One thing is not the other,” Vlad objected. “Yes, I like your plan to pull these people up, it will take generations but it’s worth doing. But that doesn’t prove anything about the workability of naïve unrealistic democracy. You can’t say that it’s working. Look at what your democracy did electing Trump! Or, look at this one: Aaron Burr right after killing Hamilton – one man indicted for murder of a Founding Father – convinces the Senate to remove the ‘previous question’ rule, and that creates the filibuster. Now the 31% of least adaptable people in your country, the ones most afraid of the future, have 60% of the power. You can’t get new legislation passed no matter how good your ideas may be. You’ve put a brake on your own efficiency for over two centuries! What do you call a system that does that if not naïve and unrealistic?”

“Fair enough,” Joe agreed, “Neither political parties nor filibusters are in the U.S. Constitution. Maybe one day we’ll get to test how efficiently we can govern the U.S. based on the Constitution. That’s one of my goals. I think you’ll see that it isn’t inefficient when the Senate gets its ability back to move on from futile conversation loops.”

The full moon rose over the Pacific across the sky from the dwindling sunset.

“Like let’s get out of this loop about democracy and go back to where we were going – alternative method to sanctions,” Joe said seriously but with a friendly smile. “We’ll have lots of time for philosophy if we keep up this meeting via Zoom every week.” They looked at him expectantly.

“There is no way of stopping people around the world from saying whatever they like,” Joe went on. “If there is expression of disgust over certain events that happen in any of our countries, in order to rechannel outrage away from sanctions and things that work against us all, the most wu wei solution is to remove the cause of the outrage.” Jinping’s expression darkened slightly.

Wu wei is the core tenet of Lao Tzu’s philosophy and of Taoism. It means going with the flow of the Universe’s action (Tao). It also means effortless action as in Flow state. May The Force Be With You. Jinping agrees with the wisdom of wu wei but was slightly miffed at a non-Chinese co-opting it. His face relaxed again.

“You are saying we should simply stop doing the things you criticize us for, although we’ve repeatedly warned you that we are offended by such meddlings,” Jinping said levelly. “Is this creativity, to simply repeat demands?”

“No, the creative part is next. First of all, let’s say the issue is something that you’ve been denying – fake news. One way you could choose to handle that is to invite the Red Cross, or a UN commission, to inspect the situation on the ground and verify that you’ve been telling the truth.”

“Not a bad idea,” Jinping said, “I’ll consider it.” He wondered if Biden knew that Chiang Kai-Shek had snookered the world for years by inviting the press into sanitized areas. However, Jinping was not thinking of doing that.

“I can’t see that this particular piece of creativity is going to make a big difference, Joe,” Vlad said honestly.

Joe nodded agreement. “Just one piece of the puzzle,” Joe said. “Here’s the big idea: Most Favored Nation treatment in all trade deals between the U.S. and your countries if you show the world that you sincerely are respectful of human rights. That you are taking steps to show compassion for all of your people and neighbors.”

The two other men were holding their bodies and expressions very still.

“How would that work?” Vlad asked neutrally.

“I’d prefer that it be based on something objective, so that it’s not a judgment call,” Joe said. “A Pew global poll every month or more frequently that tracks world perception of whether a given country is sincerely doing what it can to move at realistic and compassionate speed toward respecting human rights. As long as more than half the world believes in you, the MFN lasts, as soon as more than half the world condemns you, the MFN is abated until the poll results change for the better. or something like that.”

He saw the gradually dawning realization on their faces of just how serious he was.

“Yes. It’s time to change the game entirely,” he said with a grin, rubbing his palms together vigorously as if he had just spat in them. The meme of getting down to work with eagerness.

The sun had gone down and the colors were draining out of the sky, but their three faces shone with a new inner light.

To be continued.

Best to all,

Bill

 

Feeling Happy

Created March 19, 2021

The Pursuit of Happiness. It’s one of our inalienable rights.

But do we exercise it enough?

What percent of our thoughts does happiness get?

Before Covid, probably our own happiness did not get much of our attention at all on the average day.

Since Covid, I hear from my friends that the constant video calls are keeping them busier than ever, and I’m certainly experiencing that myself. That might mean that we are giving even less thought to happiness, our own and that of others.

Those of us on the front lines, still moving around outside the home, may have even less time to self-contemplate. Although there are times in everyone’s day that can be stolen moments, when the priorities are remembered.

The trick is not just to remember to think creatively about how to make oneself and others happy. It’s also, even more importantly, to simply remember to be happy.

Not that we all can turn that off and on like a switch. Most of us have little talent for switching over to being happy. But with practice, like with everything, it actually is something that all of us can learn to do.

The way it works with me is:

  1. First, I create a minute or two of alone space. No one can interrupt or distract me. That may require slipping away and locking oneself in a bathroom.
  2. Long slow breaths help establish a certain calmness.
  3. I’m prepared to take notes with pad and pen in pocket. Just in case I get a flow of inspiration.
  4. Am I happy? If not, why not, what activity can I undertake when I rejoin the world that I’d rather be doing, and can I put off what else I’ve been doing, and if so, to when? I’ve written here before about the importance of working on what you feel like working on at the moment – it’s conducive to Flow state, on top of making yourself happy.
  5. I put on a smile to help others and leave my hideout.

You might find other ways to switch yourself to the happy channel. If there are seriously painful things going on, that’s a whole different situation. Still requiring creativity, alone space to focus. The only constructive question is always What can I do about it? You can’t control the outcome of certain painful situations but you can identify where you can exert creative effort to make a positive difference. Sometimes the only thing you can control is the impression you make on others, showing how a mensch can stand up to anything, supporting others, still able to have an apropos type of smile on your face, calm and working toward the good every moment.

All of us can be refreshed and reinvigorated by a daily dose of a few minutes’ contemplation on our happiness. Or the whole day, it’s the one thing worth double-tasking. While you go about your day, remember that you are responsible to yourself to enjoy every moment of the gift of life.

Bring able to keep that criterion within every moment is one of the most important priorities of life.

It might seem selfish but on a practical basis it is not. Your being happy will actually make people around you happier than they would be if you are unhappy instead.

All my best,

Bill

What Is Fairness Among Nations?

Created February 2nd, 2021

Part of why Russia and China are perpetually mad at us is that we have continuously called them out for doing things we don’t approve of. We have identified the cause of what we see as their bad behavior as being the fact that they are not democracies in the sense of free speech, etc. There is of course a goodly degree of truth to that; however, even if they were to do their best to mimic our kind of democracy, their root cultures going back thousands of years might still interpret democracy in a more top-down way than our ideals ask for.

And of course, the envious nations we have lectured in the past revel in how we have been self-exposed to be just as low as they were when we criticized them!

Let’s look at Presidents Putin and Xi Jinping and put ourselves in their shoes. What would you do if you ran Russia or China? How would you play their hand? Leave aside what you have read or heard about the two people in those shoes, look at it only from the point of view of the position, of the responsibility you have.

At the end of WWII the USA had half the world market economically, was the only nation on Earth with atomic weapons, and was actively helping other nations to rebuild. Russia and China had been allies in that war but very soon after it was over it became clear that there was now a new strife, a war of ideologies. The USA was clear and outspoken in favor of democracy, liberty, equality, justice for all, and against Communism. America had been against Communism long before WWII. So on the gameboard of RISK the two largest Marxist nations and the US were on a collision course. That was 76 years ago.

Over those 76 years the US has shaken its right forefinger at those two proud nations and its leaders almost ever day of every year one way or another. It’s one of the ongoing themes covered by the news.

Then mirabile dictu! By some nasty miracle those damn Americans had been right all along about Capitalism. That sort of sets you up, if you are one of those two world leaders, to have a chip on your shoulder about those damn yankees, certain of whose main ways had been so proven to be right, one just had to eat humble pie, give up and join in with them as capitalists.

The background of emnity doesn’t have to always be that way. It’s understandable that it’s where we find ourselves now. But no need to continue in the same manner. We have options. All sorts of options. Let’s evaluate all of them. Meanwhile, back to the game: you are Presidents Putin and Xi Jinping. How do you play the hand you’ve been dealt?

Leaving aside the chip on the shoulder, even if you were to start with a fresh slate, you need to grow your nation economically and technologically and assure a better life for as many of your citizens as possible. While of course yourself continuing to enjoy all the things you like best.

You don’t necessarily want war. War even in a limited war zone scenario is terribly costly. It could nowadays all too easily go all the way. The Trump years demonstrated that civilization is a tenth of an inch veneer you could almost scratch off with a fingernail.

You definitely don’t want any more insults from the Americans or anyone else. You want to be respected.

It would be far more convenient from a security standpoint to be able to control the fringes of your empire, although this is looking like the thing that could set off the tinderbox.

During the past 76 years part of the game is to see what you can get away with, to test each new US president. As I allow the reader to take control of these two world leaders in this mind experiment, the testing process is taking place around the South China Sea especially Taiwan (predicted in my 2019 anticipatory novel PANDEMONIUM: LIVE TO ALL DEVICES).

In Russia’s case that would include places like the Ukraine etc. where there are recent reasons to be mad at the Americans.

If you are now temporarily living through Presidents Putin and Xi Jinping, you are thinking about how do you balance your objectives of economic growth and consolidating your empires? If you can convince yourself to live with the geographic borders as they are for this decade anyway, you could focus on economic growth. If America stops talking down to you maybe the trade deals could be worked out that would blow the doors off the Russian economy. Allow technological development at the highest levels ever conceived. Possibly the former USSR states would clamor back to the closest ties with Russia ever.

Same story for China. If focus on improving domestic economies and happiness is allowed, by retracting game pawns from the borders, China is already predicted to becoming the next USA in terms of largest economy. By trade benefits China could then bloodlessly get the consolidation feeling it wants. Just a matter of patience.

This would point to a 20s of world boom and peace. My recommendation is that the USA starts from this thinking in reapproaching the other world leaders.

There is no question about the need for firmness and straight-out honesty about no more cyber and psychological cold war mischief. That is table stakes.

Beyond that and other military testing adventures going away, the US can pledge to stop telling them how to behave, while the US focuses instead on returning to be a good role model in terms of its own behavior, which comes down to a pledge of that kind by each of us Americans individually.

We can work out what is a win/win/win for all of us, and make that boom a reality.

Once the engine is running, no one will want to throw a shoe in the machinery, so the ultrasecret bad stuff will even be shut down then. No Russian or Chinese person of importance will want to risk being cancelled for having been caught in the cookie jar. Same goes for us and every country. Once we are in happy boom mode, the impetus to do negative things will evaporate.

But first we’ve got to get there.

To be clear, I’m recommending that:

(a) Daily we remember to always put ourself in the other person’s shoes before speaking or writing about, or to him or her.

(b) Our State Department take on this mantle of explicitly and forthrightly reframing the 76-years-old-time-to-go mindspace in all talks and communiques with the foreign leaders. Showing them our win/win/win scenario and promising to uphold it without sneaky tricks for as long as they do. And of course keeping our promises.

This means giving up the idea that we are destined to force the whole world to adopt the American system of democracy. Let them devise their own ways of living in their own countries. Help wherever we can anyone whom we feel is being given a raw deal but do so within the rules of conduct among sovereign nations. Offer economic and technological incentives where the opportunity arises that result in a higher quality of life everywhere and for everyone on Earth, especially once our own citizens are in their own homes and able to survive without fear, balancing care at home and abroad based on majority voting. No longer project that we know best and are better than everyone else. As much fun as it has been especially in novels since the OSS and Otto Skorzeny co-invented the modern paramilitary, we hope that we keep ours strong and make it stronger, but don’t have to use it aggressively as much in the coming boom times of world equilibrium and American Unity.

“The past was about domination. The future is about liberation.”

—Harvey Kraft, Digitalism

“You better free your mind instead.”

—The Beatles, Revolution

We can do it.

All my best,

Bill