I heard someone claim, “You can’t lead from the sidelines.” While looking for the author of this quote, I found the following words from Shirley Chisholm, “You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.”
Why these quotes about sidelines? On June 1, 2017, America moved out of our place as THE leader of the free world and stepped onto the impotent sidelines. We relinquished our connections to 200 national leaders who at least claim they will work to improve the world atmosphere. In our withdrawal we joined Nicaragua and Syria. No one questions why Syria did not join. Nicaragua tells a different story.
Paul Oquist, who represents Nicaragua at the Paris meetings claims that unlike the Kyoto Protocol in 1998, no consequences currently exist if any country fails to maintain its promises. Whether or not one agrees with Nicaragua’s position, I maintain that only those at the table can make a correction concerning this issue.
Currently, Nicaragua ranks 131st in carbon emissions. Regrettably, the US ranks second in the world, which means only China emits more carbon than we do. Those who do more harm should contribute accordingly. Nothing sounds more childish than to claim unfair treatment from other nations. When I hear this complaint, I consider efforts to help high needs children.
Teachers who work with special education students often hear complaints of unfairness from other children. I always respond, “Fair means each individual gets what that person needs in order to learn and succeed.” Equal treatment ignores individual differences. On the other hand, equity provides what each individual actually needs to make progress. As we should behave with children, we must act among nations. Equity overrides equality. Nations, like children, arrive with differing needs and abilities.
Even if the Paris Agreements do not represent perfection, I believe we should be involved, striving to improve the agreements and seeking to lead other nations to care for the planet. I fear we will have little or no influence from the sidelines.
I close with a final quote from Theodore Roosevelt. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
Even North Korea joined the Paris Accord. The United States now stands on the sidelines with Syria and Nicaragua. I weep with regret that we no longer lead the free world. From the sidelines, we pout and complain.
Cabral, Angelica. “Why Isn’t Nicaragua Part of the Paris Agreement?” futuretense. June 1, 2017. http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2017/06/01/why_isn_t_nicaragua_part_of_the_paris_climate_agreement.html
Chisholm, Shirley. “Sideline Quotes.” AZ QUOTES. https://www.ratchetandwrench.com/articles/1173-don-rsquo-t-lead-from-the-sidelineshttp.
Evans, Bryce. “Don’t Lead from the Sidelines.” RATCHET+WRENCH. . June 29, 2012.