Thinking Outside the Box

“The one unifying theme established by the Constitution, and upheld by generations thereafter, was the simple fact that we were free.”

A very familiar quote attributed to Albert Einstein is:  “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” I have found that most great scientists were also philosophers. Einstein was one of the greatest “outside the box” thinkers. To formulate the general theory of relativity required him to look at obvious facts from a new and different perspective. Dr. Einstein sought solutions to unexplained equations through unconventional thought. His process pursued ideas that were outside of conventional wisdom. Einstein received unparalleled accolades during his life. One of the highest praises rendered to him came from his colleagues who wondered how in the world he ever thought of his trademark theory. In other words, the greatest minds in the world of the time were unable to think outside the box to solve the mysteries of the basic questions about our universe.

I believe that we could apply Einstein’s attitude to societal problems today. For instance, former New York Senator Patrick Moynihan conducted a study in the 1960s to determine the plight of African-Americans in the inner-city. He found that the unemployment rate among young black males was twice the national average. Fifty years later, it is exactly the same. Politicians debating solutions for societal problems in West Baltimore are advocating more money for the same programs. This would in fact, fit Einstein’s definition of insanity.

So what are we to do?

Taking a step back and looking at the problem from outside the box might be in order. Many young people in inner cities today lack the proper education or training to meet their potential to be employed in the 21st century. We can debate the causes.  Lack of a two-parent household, extreme poverty, and high crime neighborhoods are all contributing factors. How to break the cycle depends upon our commitment to unifying principles. I would suggest that of all the moral, economic, and disciplinary problems facing America today, most stem largely from the fact that there is not one single statement about America that unites the generations, the races, the geographic regions, or religious beliefs. In other words, there is not one statement on which we all agree that reflects the foundation of our nationality. With all the problems that society presents in the world today, most Europeans, most Asians, and most ethnic groups feel some bond or unifying factor in their identity. What is America’s?

This great nation began as a country of immigrants. Our heritage and identity was that we were not of one nationality. We had no king. We had no ruling class. We were the great melting pot. We relied upon each other. The one unifying theme established by the Constitution, and upheld by generations thereafter, was the simple fact that we were free. Free as individuals, free as families, and free as cities to determine our own culture, environment and prosperity. We were connected to the generations in this commitment and affirmation. We believed in the future because freedom provided hope. Now we find ourselves divided on just about every possible level. It is critical that we reestablish our bearings on simple principles echoed in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the trust in the Federalism of the Federal-State government partnership.

So, what is a possible solution to the lack of trust between the African-American community of West Baltimore and the police? (And there are many more West Baltimores out there.) It is not to federalize the local police force as some are suggesting. That would absolutely breach the constitutional provisions of the Federal-State partnership. A possible idea would be to establish an AmeriCorps for people between the ages of 16 and 25. It would include two years of employment with a federal-state partnership to provide real benefits to cities and prepare a person with a skill for a job in the private sector. It would require a person to remain in school and graduate from high school or obtain a GED. The idea would be to take the best results from the military experience of introducing discipline, commitment, and loyalty and appreciation for freedom and for a country that has been the standard of freedom for the world. Expensive? Maybe, but cheaper than a lifetime of dependency, poverty, and crime.

This idea could be expanded in that there are many functions of the national Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Education that could be better delegated to the states at less cost and achieving the same results of government service. The general industries of health care and banking would be better served organized regionally rather than more and more federally.

A restructuring of how the government provides services and prepares citizens for employment in a new and changing global economy requires “outside the box” thinking. Part of that process should be, how do we rediscover and commit to binding principles that give us an identity as a nation?

If we are not passing along the principles of freedom to the next generation, the forces of evil will pass on the principles of bondage.

My name is Marc Nuttle and this is what I believe.

What do you believe?