July 16th, 2018

Guest Column: Important jobs need qualified people

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on October 7, 2017.

On Sept. 25 I underwent an eye operation in Calgary, which, while not fun, was a very beautiful experience. Over the past year my right eye had been developing a Macular Pucker, distorting the vision in that eye. That, according to some, might explain my leftist political leanings. I required a vitrectomy and a retinal peel which may sound vaguely sensual to some but isn’t.

After some preparation I was wheeled into a room, covered with a tarp with a hole over my right eye, and told not to move. Then the show began. A bright light shone through my pupil. A brilliant light-play of reds, blues and yellows. Globular waves of fluid danced to their own tune. Then, from the left area of my vision a thin tube moved about and sucked up the globular fluids. I began to make out, near the bottom of my vision field, a translucent rug with clearly defined edges. From the right side a tiny set of pincers began tugging at the rug, and I could see it begin to lift and stretch, and little by little the rug was sucked up by the little vacuum tube. Finally I saw new fluid begin to flood back into the scene through another little tube. And that was it. A 30-minute ocular fantasia, reminiscent, I assume, of the experiences that my long-haired friends in the ’60s talked about.

I trusted my doctors, both the local retinal specialist and the even more specialized doctors in Calgary. They were going to do things to me that, when alone with my imagination, frightened me. I trusted them, their qualifications, their steady hands, their vast experience, and their wisdom. And, gladly, it was trust well founded.

I cannot say the same for my trust in the leader of the ‘free world’, Mr. Trump. I speak as a Canadian who loves this country and our very Canadian-ness. I also value deeply our broadly accepted belief in our social responsibility to incrementally improve the lives of all Canadians, especially the disadvantaged and those trampled upon by our colonial history. Some might say, “Why don’t you stick to Canadian topics then?” To which I say, there is no more important Canadian ‘topic’ than to continue to shout from any hill you can find, that Donald Trump, his bankrupt Congress, and his ill-informed and socially myopic 38 per cent, constitute the biggest danger to civil democratic society since 1945. He is not to be trusted. But disturbingly, he is the one presently holding the scalpel over the heads of all of us.

Mr. Trump’s only qualification for leadership is that he is a wealthy businessperson. Being a businessperson qualifies one to run a business. Period. My successful eye surgeon is not qualified to captain an ocean liner. Likewise business success does not alone qualify one to run a nation or to be a statesman.

Have Mr. Trump’s ‘business skills’ translated into leadership strengths in the last eight months? Clearly, he has been an unparalleled disaster turning everything he touches to dust.

Consider just the most recent opportunity for Mr. Trump to ‘be presidential’. His first response to the Las Vegas shootings this past week was awkward, insincere, and empty “É God bless you.” There was no mention of the obvious need for stricter gun laws. It would have been an opportune time to make a difference and to address a national calamity. (According to one late night talk show host last week 11,660 Americans died of gun violence in the last 275 days.)

On the contrary, “Addressing the National Rifle Association in April, the president declared, ‘the eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to an end,’ and added, ‘You have a true friend and champion in the White House.’ In February, the president signed a law that made it easier for people with a history of mental illness to buy guns, including semiautomatic rifles.” (The New Yorker, February 2017). Could his silence be tied to the NRA contribution of $30.3 million to Mr. Trump’s election campaign?

But Congressional leaders, and I assume Mr. Trump, have said that mass shootings are the ‘price of freedom.’ Very little here to comfort the families of the 59 victims who died and the more than 500 wounded. Clearly Mr. Trump has none of the qualification for his present position. He is incapable of statesmanship. He clearly can not be trusted.

The story of Mr. Trump clearly shows that business experience alone does not qualify anyone for positions of public service. This also applies to those in our community who hope to serve as mayor, councillor or school board trustee. Other qualities — a history of honesty, transparent and consistent principles, people skills, a sense of mission, an acknowledged responsibility to those they serve, and familiarity with the position — are also necessary.

I hope the successful candidates will, in the next four years, live up our trust.

Peter Mueller is a long-time resident of Medicine Hat who, in spite of all the evidence, continues to believe we can build a better world.

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