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Guide Its The Little Green Things That Matter Most

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It's the little things that matter the most - Your Modern Dad

First, will the euro survive? Second, what will China do? Everything else is of interest only in relation to these three items. You are lucky if you are a Russia analyst. It is a world in which power is defined solely in terms of market value. Soft power does not exist, but military power is also much less valuable than most believe. This is an aspect of great importance: if you have market power, you had better act like you do.

Being powerful in the markets and then behaving foolishly in politics is the ultimate sin. The message is that when you have money, grow up.

Hear that, Europe? Get the message, Saudi Arabia? In essence, it is a world of mercantile realpolitik. Only a few places across the globe, those with market impact, matter. Other places, and the people in them, matter less. You can call that a healthy sense of priority or you can call it brutal heartlessness, but so be it.


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Human affairs do not impact everyone the same way. The big rich three—America, China, and Europe—deserve your attention; the rest are just political derivatives. Which means it is a world in which having oil and nukes and little green men can make you somewhat important, but not really important. It is a world ruled by short-term considerations.

Investors want return on investment. Many of them want it on a quarterly basis, which puts their attention span at one-sixteenth of that of a politician who runs on a four-year election cycle. If you think Western democratic politics is short-termist, shallow, and out of breath, welcome to the world of mercantile realpolitik! Everything here happens so fast that all those undercurrents of human development, the slow-burning big issues, barely register.

Or rather, these undercurrents matter, but very differently from the way conventional analysts describe. Because the world of mercantile realpolitik is not the world of representative democracy. All of the big underlying developments, such as demographic trends, technological innovation, global warming, and so on, are permanently being factored in by their crowd smartness.

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Business makes a profit to exist. And surely it must exist for some higher, nobler purpose than that. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope for survival. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us.

And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it. So how is it we can destroy the only planet we have? We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it. Do good anyway. Give the world your best and it may not be enough. Give your best anyway. We are here for ninety, a hundred years at the very most.

During that period we must try to do something good, something useful with our lives. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Simplify, simplify. Home should be the setting for life, not the measure of it. This makes it very hard to plan the day.

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If all the beasts were gone, men would die from the great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected. It was a big brownstone encircled by a wrought-iron fence, and overlooking either side of the ornate door were gargoyles, their granite faces carved from my nightmares. Mama had been working for Sam Hallowell and his family since before my sister and I were born.

You may not have recognized his name, but you would have known him the minute he said hello. He had been the unmistakable voice in the mids who announced before every show: The following program is brought to you in living color on NBC! The doorbell beneath those gargoyles was the famously pitched three-note chime everyone associates with NBC.

The reason we were with Mama that day was because it was a snow day. School was canceled, but we were too little to stay alone in our apartment while Mama went to work—which she did, through snow and sleet and probably also earthquakes and Armageddon. Mina had to spread the peanut butter on her own sandwich bread.

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In fact the only time I remember Mama taking time off work was twenty-five years later, when she had a double hip replacement, generously paid for by the Hallowells. But when I was little, during school vacations and bouts of fever and snow days like this one, Mama would take us with her on the B train downtown. Hallowell was away in California that week, which happened often, and which meant that Ms. Mina and Christina needed Mama even more. So did Rachel and I, but we were better at taking care of ourselves, I suppose, than Ms.

Mina was. When we finally emerged at Seventy-second Street, the world was white. It was not just that Central Park was caught in a snow globe. Mama tucked away her coat, too, and her lucky scarf—the soft one that smelled like her, and that Rachel and I fought to wear around our house because it felt like petting a guinea pig or a bunny under your fingers.

I waited for Mama to move through the dark rooms like Tinker Bell, alighting on a switch or a handle or a knob so that the sleeping beast of a house was gradually brought to life. It was imported from Paris, and it tasted like heaven. I made a house as big as this one.

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I put a family inside: me, Mama, Rachel. The only way to see them was to tilt the paper sideways toward the chandelier light, so I could make out the shimmer where the crayon had been. Christina was six, falling neatly between the ages of Rachel and me. Christina had the biggest bedroom I had ever seen and more toys than anyone I knew. When she was home and we came to work with our mother, we played school with her and her teddy bears, drank water out of real miniature china teacups, and braided the corn-silk hair of her dolls.

Unless she had a friend over, in which case we stayed in the kitchen and colored. But before Mama could answer, there was a scream so piercing and so ragged that it stabbed me in the chest. I knew it did the same to Mama, because she nearly dropped the pot of water she was carrying to the sink. I was drawn in her wake, a balloon tied to her wrist. My hand skimmed over the banister of the curved staircase, not touching.

The round of her belly rose like a moon; the shining whites of her eyes made me think of merry-go-round horses, frozen in flight. She was holding the telephone receiver.

Mina held her other hand in a death grip. She stood between Rachel and me. But we remained rooted to the spot as Mama quickly forgot about us, lost in a world made of Ms. I watched the cords stand out on Ms. I watched the pink lips between Ms. Two things happened at once: the doorbell rang, and Christina started to cry. Mina crooned, not scary anymore but still sweaty and red-faced.

She held out her hand, but Christina was too terrified by what she had seen, and instead she burrowed closer to me. Rachel, ever practical, went to answer the front door. She returned with two paramedics, who swooped in and took over, so that what Mama had done for Ms. Mina became like everything else she did for the Hallowells: seamless and invisible. The Hallowells named the baby Louis, after Mama.

He was fine, even though he was almost a full month early, a casualty of the barometric pressure dropping with the storm, which caused a PROM—a premature rupture of membranes. I only knew that on a snowy day in Manhattan I had seen the very start of someone. The experience of watching Louis being born affected us all differently. Christina had her baby via surrogate.

Rachel had five. Me, I became a labor and delivery nurse. When I tell people this story, they assume the miracle I am referring to during that long-ago blizzard was the birth of a baby.