Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

June 11, 2015

A summer hiatus

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on June 11, 2015

A couple of weeks ago I was the only non-federalista at a DHS event where one official introduced me to another as “the HLSWatch blogger”, to which my new acquaintance replied, “Oh yes! You’re the philosopher, aren’t you?”

I’m not sure how he pegs Chris or Arnold or Christian, but I responded “Yes, I guess so.” Closing on the upbeat.

At a recent FEMA function as we offered self-introductions, the facilitator interrupted and asked me, “Would you share with the group your other persona?” I had no idea where she was going.  “Which one?” I laughed.  “There are so many.”

“Tell us about your poetry.”  Which is an infrequent invitation anywhere and especially inside the Beltway.

Just this Monday I was in Los Angeles working on supply chains but found myself in a conversation involving Heidegger, Nietzsche, Aristotle, and Plato that actually wound around to important insights on the differences between supply chains and critical infrastructure and protection versus resilience.

It really was a conversation, initiated by the other party.  So I am reasonably certain I did not slip into a solipsistic hallucination.

Clearly I have never shied away from my own set of mostly traditional humanistic frameworks. Still my principal professional persona, presumably, is that of an experienced private sector actor.  I don’t have any special claim on philosophy and my poetry is, unfortunately, mostly mildly mediocre.  Whereas I have the emotional scars and experiential receipts to prove a forty-plus year tenure in start-ups and beyond.

But as the vignettes above suggest, perhaps I have recently been a bit obsessive-compulsive — to you it may simply seem self-indulgent — regarding several abstract themes including complex adaptive theory, epistemology, and ethics (when I was not preoccupied with Nepal).

This week every issue I have considered for comment — police use of force, the Turkish election, private-public-civic collaboration in resilience, counter-terrorism in Nigeria, US immigration enforcement, and more — has seemed to me yet another example of how when fear mates with a predisposition to control their progeny are problems multiplied.

Several poets occur to me as potential sources of pithy quotes.  Here’s one:

We have no reason to harbor any mistrust against our world, for it is not against us. If it has terrors, they are our terrors; if it has abysses, these abysses belong to us; if there are dangers, we must try to love them. And if only we arrange our life in accordance with the principle which tells us that we must always trust in the difficult, then what now appears to us as the most alien will become our most intimate and trusted experience.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

But I have already made this claim, more than once. Redundancy is where nagging starts.  You deserve better.  I should do better.

So… acknowledging my recent tendency to eccentric philosophical/poetic preoccupations — and, I will admit, an increasingly crowded professional life — I will take a hiatus from HLSWatch to try to find something new to say.

But if you happen to see fear approaching control at some bar, picnic, or beach, please keep them apart.

Best wishes for the summer.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

June 11, 2015 @ 6:00 am

Thanks Phil for the update and more poetry will always help make the world a better place IMO!

Comment by Claire Rubin

June 11, 2015 @ 12:00 pm

Thanks from me too.

Enjoy your summer.


Comment by Bruce Martin

June 11, 2015 @ 3:02 pm

Sabbatical or a sabbatical (from Latin: sabbaticus, from Greek: sabbatikos (??????????), from Hebrew: shabbat (???) (i.e., Sabbath), literally a “ceasing”) is a rest from work, or a break, often lasting from two months to a year. The concept of sabbatical has a source in shmita, described in several places in the Bible (Leviticus 25, for example, where there is a commandment to desist from working the fields in the seventh year). In the strict sense, therefore, a sabbatical lasts a year. (from Wikipedia)

For some reason this definition seemed “palin-ish” to me. Phil, I enjoy your comments and look forward to seeing them in the future. You give me the classical education I never had, pertinently aligned to the homeland security universe. I find it valuable because, as my wife has taught me, “you need to go talk with people you wouldn’t usually talk with.”

Best wishes.

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