Government Watch / Opinion / Politics

Inspiration and Amusement


Staying inspired in a world trying to kill, demean, or deride inspiration is hard, but worth every effort. The future depends on it.  Still, some days inspiration runs out, and we look for consolations. Staying amused is a useful one.

We have two cats and two dogs. For some reason, both cats favor specific spots to rest, while both dogs vie for similar “best dog spots.” When one animal arrives late to the game, he or she mulls, pouts, and putters about, until the other gives up the favorite spot, then all is well – except not in reverse.

Watching how these animals behaved, especially during long COVID days, when inspiration ran out and news poured in, analysis less inspiring than tiring – was amusing. In this, there is a lesson.

Daily, we see in our news things that stop us short. There is a tendency to get upset, dismayed, disillusioned, even discouraged.  We have another claim of outrage at traditions, words old as humanity, references to history, science, medicine, math, biology, criminology, even fairy tales – someone wants changed.

We see bold statements of untruth on everything from inflation and energy to open borders. The idea is, apparently, the more times a leader says what is false, the closer it gets to true – only it does not. Those who spout nonsense look foolish.

Americans know: Open borders are not closed, high crime is not low, less police do not make us safer, inflation is not from phases of the moon or Russia’s buffoon, Afghanistan withdrawal was not a success, and China is not benign. Still, we are told to buy it. If we do not like that, “lots of luck on our trip to the moon.” Right.

So, we look for consolation. We think quietly, pondering history’s trajectory. We ask, did Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, and Monroe, Lincoln, two Roosevelts, a Kennedy, Reagan, two Bushes, and Trump lead to this?

On inspired days, we know history is long, this too will pass. We know bad leaders precede good ones. We know national inspiration goes deep, if occasionally dark. Americans are, after all, individually inspired, made this country great on their vision, determination, perspiration, and can-do. They can again.

On tough days, we look for something to lighten the mood – amusement. One place is animals, filled with foolishness. Another is humanity, close on their tails.

For 450 days, I met with Secretary Powell as Assistant Secretary for various operations. Issues were big, historical, and inspiration often high. We ran programs entrusted to us in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Colombia.

Yet some days, the “cats and dogs” got to us, as they will. One morning, arriving early, a newly confirmed assistant secretary – meaning no harm – sat where another usually sat. By the time Powell arrived, the whole room’s seating chart was a mess, bollixed up, musical chairs having occurred.

Powell could have ignored it, kept the amusement to himself, but he did not. Amusement, once understood, is worth sharing. Tensions were high in the world, his team equal parts inspiration and exhaustion. But he did not let this pass.

“I see we have a different seating chart today,” he said with a whimsical smile. This produced what he aimed to induce, a moment of laughter, banter, humility about the room, honesty about our crazy ways – and some smiles. That was it. 

That was all we needed to get everyone in a decent mood, lift the day, point us toward higher goals, make us worry less about chairs, status, stupid stuff. We had bigger things to do, and that was his way of reminding us. 

Some days, you reach for inspiration in a world awash in whacky words, indulgent habits, and disrespect for truth. You come up short. Finding inspiration is just hard. But finding amusement – in cats and dogs, nonsensical humanity – is consolation.

By the time I left Powell’s State, having spent time in other pockets of government, I could confidently tell my team we would have good days and bad. Best way to work it? “Stay inspired…and on those days when you cannot, at least stay amused.” There is plenty of that these days, amusement, to go around.

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7 months ago

Very well said, thank you!

7 months ago

at his core a good man, had serious doubts about “wmds”, but admitted he buried those concerns acknowledging he promoted the idea at the UN knowingly misleading the world. in fairness, he could have been “blackmailed to mislead” considering the power the abusive “swamp”. he fooled many on that one (so did Hil-liar-y and many dems) but he is also responsible for leading many to re-examine bush and all the others in both parties we had previously trusted. he should have been stronger and refused spread the lie. but through the ongoing re-examination of DC that he spawned he led us indirectly to identify “rinos”, ultimately to “drain the swamp”, the understanding of how cancerous the “swamp” had become in both parties and how very necessary the work of draining it in order to return the country to “the people”. brandon’s totally unaware how many rocks that the swamp-dwellers hide under that he’s actually turning over for us (GO BRANDON!) and he’s making obvious the swamp draining has been necessary to help us begin changing DC back for our benefit, not “theirs”. “tear down those cameras, brandon”, that are spying on Americans, put them in Congress and enforce our Constitution returning freedom to Americans. you can do it Brandon! you just don’t know it.

7 months ago

Staying inspired in a world trying to kill, demean, or deride JUDEO-CHRISTIAN VALUES is hard ……………..

Nobody’s Business
7 months ago

I wouldn’t use Colin Powell as an example for anything. He knew from the start who outed Valerie Plaine, his friend Armstrong. Yet he let millions of dollars get spent investigating it. Until to save face they used an innocent man Libby as a scapegoat. He benefited by the hiring of Blacks not the best person for the job. He also lied and said he was a conservative but I’m voting for Obama! There is no way you could be conservative and vote for that socialist Puke. Just another Black voting for someone just because they’re black. So in other words skin color over what’s good for the country.

7 months ago

I don’t believe you got the message RBC was conveying. Reread the article with a more open mind, and you might be inspired. Even though I did not agree with some of Powell’s politics, I still feel that his was a stellar career, both in the Army and as Secretary of State.

7 months ago

I admired Powell for years, right up until he threw his support behind Obama. In so doing he worked against McCain, another prominent veteran. Many average voters were snowed by Obamas soaring rhetoric, a body of lies cobbled together by a trained marxist. Powell was in a position to find out exactly who Obama was. Either he failed in due diligence or didnt care because of Os ethnicity. This was treachery of a high order. Btw, Many believe Powell couldve been the first black president in 2000. I share that belief and would’ve eagerly voted for him. I can only imagine his policies based on his endorsement of O.

Kim L.
7 months ago

I have never made an online comment; but this simple, beautifully written message has inspired me to do so. Hope, inspiration, faith and humor will get us through just about anything! Thank you Mr. Charles.

7 months ago

I used to watch my local news broadcasts afternoon and evening. I now watch NO news. Too many lies and too much stress.

7 months ago
Reply to  Barb304

you’re smart. it’s all straight outta the potty.

7 months ago

Love the message and the story. Thanks!

7 months ago

Humor is the ability to keep yourself sane, and going, in a world that has gone nuts.
It is necessary for life.

7 months ago

RBC, Thank you for YOUR service.

7 months ago

Always keep focused on the larger goal and you can always ignore the unimportant noise of the moment.

7 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

This is a major Truth.

7 months ago

RBC, thanks for your thoughts and comments. We all have our good, bad, and ugly days. We all react in many different ways. I always converse with the Heavenly Father about the different situations that enter in my path. I know and trust that He will answer the situation when the time is right and will give Him the glory and honor as due to Him. I know that he orchestrates everything in our lives.

Deploreable Sam
7 months ago
Reply to  Max

Always very important to remember, this IS all and always His plan.

Ertis Crumpler
7 months ago
Reply to  Max

Thank God for another sane mind out there.

bruce curran
7 months ago

as soon as I saw Sectary Powell I knew you were the author…….Thanks for the message….much needed at this time!!

7 months ago
Reply to  bruce curran

Thank you Bruce … You are a patriot’s patriot, and your words always mean a great deal – as do others on this string. As Churchill said, more or less, “Defeat is not fatal, victory is not final, it is the courage to continue that counts.” Did then, does now, and staying inspired, amused, and unremitting … is how big battles are won. We are in such a battle today, and that should inspire us too! Thank you!

Edward Mashmann
7 months ago

Wow! Talk about a timely message. As always Thanks. Ed

7 months ago

Thank you Ed, pass the idea forward … Consistency is drawn from so many sources, but it matters, whether rooted in daily inspiration, amusement, a strong leader in whom one can trust when weathers gets rough, just a regular backward balance at history … We are in that storm now, and that is why perspective, maintaining it, is so important. Thank you.

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