GUEST COMMENTARY: Our hand to play is our challenge

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 1:02 p.m. CDT, Monday, August 30, 2010

In this age of economic, political, social and natural challenges and unrest, we are all required to play the poker hand that fate has dealt us. We must be careful who stands over our shoulder attempting to help us play our hand. It does not matter whether we are president, governor, legislator, administrator or citizen, we all have a hand to play. It is our responsibility, challenge and opportunity.

All of these parties must utilize strategic rigor to address the many critical challenges confronting us. The challenges include unemployment, education, budget deficits, military actions, health care, climate change and disasters. There must be disciplined attention to the consequences of our actions, both intended and unintended.  We must be critical of those who we utilize for help.                                                         

I have often been amazed at the comprehensive currency attributed to people who have gained celebrity in a specific field. In some cases the broad currency is well deserved because their expertise and experiences cross many areas. For too many people the currency is unwarranted but given anyway.

For example, medical doctors are expected to be knowledgeable in areas sometimes far removed from medicine. Sometimes these celebrities behave as though they have earned this currency. In some of these instances we refer to professionals who don’t know how to use this unearned currency as “educated fools.” The political parties, The president, Bill Cosby, Chuck Norris, Joe Wilson, Acorn, Halliburton, lobbyists, religious leaders and consultants  are all examples of people or entities that deserve scrutiny.  Too many of us don’t know how to analyze these “helpers”  and our own  actual attributes.

When we fail to make an appropriate analysis our judgment is apt to be faulty. Many of us are unable to develop coping mechanisms for ourselves and depend on others to tell us who, what, when, where and why we may need help, a change or what condition we have. We also depend on others to tell us what to do, when, where, why and how. If the dependent parties expect help from unqualified helpers and the helpers are unaware of their inability to give appropriate help; we are all up a creek. It would be far better for all parties concerned to rely on the good common sense or the mother wit they possess. This would enable them to operate from an empowered perspective that is rooted in reality and common sense.

Good common sense will tell us when we should hold ‘em, when we should fold ‘em, when we should walk away and when we should run. We have to determine what we can do who we should listen to. And how much we should listen and in what context.  We must determine the actions to be taken and the known and potential consequences of our actions and most importantly when to do nothing and when to run!

"Once you start thinking you have nothing left to learn, you have everything to learn." — Steve Badger, champion poker player

William E. "Gene" Robertson is a Columbia resident and a professor emeretis for MU.

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