Catalyst Strategic Consultants

How does your business need to grow?

January Doing the Puzzle

In this rare week when all seems to stop, the sense of peace and quiet around us is palpable. The Christmas scene at daughter Jane’s was tranquil – out there in God’s country south of the city. Birds and animals going about their business. Tawny hills and brushy valley bottoms – roads that roll out toward the blue mountains over undulating foothills in the gathering dusk.

The puzzle on the big coffee table completed the post presents scene. Everyone took a turn at a pale scene of golds and ochres – an African elephant poking his trunk into a leafless tree while a cascade tumbled right of centre. The rest was all sunset and dust. After we completed the perimeter and Evan got the elephant and Dennis the tree, we were in a situation where the odd piece lodged was cause for high 5s. It’ll take the whole holiday.

But tonight we went to see a very tough movie. They Shall Not Grow Old is a remarkable accomplishment of Peter Jackson and team from NZ. Starting from jerky, faded or dark old movie footage, shot at the front in WW1, this very careful and dedicated group, well…

The result starts with small screens of that jittery scarred old newsreel sort depicting the war preparation scene. Specifically, the enlistment and training of legions of young men that I talked about in a recent letter, even showing the white feather shaming tactic.

But then, as they are traced through training, the quality of the film becomes more defined and the movement more human like. On to the boats and then the march to the front. And that’s where the film blooms.

The color comes on and these young men smile, stare, joke, fear and move as they would if alive now. And the horrific circumstances they live in and face likewise come alive and become something not so remote but identifiable, tangible.

These restored – with careful realistic sound added – images bring us face to face with the full catastrophe of that war of long ago. It’s as if it was happening today.

It could. It could be closer than we think. Not that type of war, but a cataclysm of similar dimension.

I’ve just finished reading in The New Yorker of the gutting of the American civil service. Trump vs the Deep State

Because it is not in our face – particularly not in Canadian faces – everyday, this insidious development means that government of long intelligence, morality and commitment is being slowly replaced by ignorance, venality, bias and blatant opportunism.
Long term consideration is being set aside to serve short term moneyed interests. Veteran experts are examined for “loyalty”, found wanting, then derided and reassigned to meaningless positions. Sounds like The Cultural Revolution in China…

The foreign service has been particularly decimated but the Department of the Interior has seen juvenile and devious “leaders” appointed in the place of previous stewards. Long term experts are mocked and sidelined. The scenario has been replicated throughout the Federal Government.

The whole business – and I know my American friends might well take me to task for having no position to comment – is an extension of the “administration”. It started as a few examples that were dismissed in the grand scheme of things. Now it is epidemic, gaining momentum. Even Steve Bannon, that dark lord of deconstruction of the state, now says the force is “unchained”.
I know we have all heard to exhaustion about the dramatics of the situation. And that is a problem. It’s becoming the everyday diet so it slips below the alarm level.

We have been lulled to passivity by our long post war peace. We have become used to disparaging elected leaders. Dialogue of their lack of quality and qualification is run of the mill. That has disincented people of quality who may have a contribution but are unwilling to run the gauntlet posed by the rough and tumble of the political world. We have turned the jobs over to the thick skinned – whoever can gain the most mentions on social media. We’ve lost track of how important politics can be.

But the parallel to me is this: the spark that started WW1 was a single mishandled incident that became a runaway engulfment. And resulted in the wanton deaths of so many of these charming innocent young men whose faces looked out at us tonight.

It wouldn’t be the same. But it could – and would – be as catastrophic.

With a rooster in office and possible constraints being stealthily dismantled, the scene is set. It wouldn’t take much, and I can’t imagine why dark forces have not yet pounced on this ripe situation. It could so easily happen again. Now. Or soon. I wondered if China had started the ball rolling with a statement about moving against Taiwan. But then my friend Walt reminded me how easy it would be for China to bring the US down. Just stop buying T-bills.

Now trump has found the perfect lever for his mission of destruction. Stop funding government through debt. In itself a good thing but it’s like trying come off opiods cold turkey. Very rough treatment the patient may not survive. Meanwhile battle lines are drawn with Democrats in charge of the House and Nancy Pelosi in the Chair…

It’s a puzzle… but one that has a few more vital consequences than placing the pieces of varying golds in the waters of an old poster for Algonquin Park. We are currently jigsawing our evenings away on the card table set up in the dining room…


Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What’s Our Business?

Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


Past Posts