This will appear in the Bernice Banner, Bernice, Louisiana, USA the week of 8/25/2014

“Rome burned while Nero fiddled”. This is reference to Roman Emperor Nero in 64 AD when seventy percent of ancient Rome burned and fifty percent of its’ habitants became homeless. The original story was that Nero overlooked the city from his villa and played music as the city burned. He gave no care for the devastation that was destroying his beautiful city. This displays how perception of a situation can be construed to distort what the actual events are. Perception is very important if not the most important aspect of a crisis.
In actual fact, history now discloses that Nero was 34 miles away from Rome when the fire began. Rumors that he had started the fire to clear the under-classed homes so that huge monuments and buildings could be built are unfounded. What actually happened was that Nero returned and actually led relief efforts. Unfortunately for Nero, the fact that he was away from the city during the catastrophe led to the belief that he was indifferent and callous. History did not treat him well and perhaps the fact that he was a tyrant fueled the story.
Today we have a similar situation in our Nation and this rocks the national leadership at both the Executive and the Legislative branches of government. This is unfortunate for our country and for the allies that have been such good friends of America for so long.
The Legislative branch of the government is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Their mission in life is to represent the people that elect them at the state level in a national forum. They pass laws that protect these people and provide guidance for the nation as a whole. Today the approval rating of the Legislative branch of the American National Government is running between fourteen and eighteen percent. This is deplorable and the question needs to be asked if this is truly justified.
The American people and the world at large sees Washington as a government in chaos with gridlock replacing the ability to move important legislation through the halls of our great capital. This perception is a fact and ideologies between the Republicans and Democrats are so great that we can get little accomplished. The perceptions that the members of congress are incompetent is probably not a good picture of the individuals that make up the Legislative Branch of our government. The vast majority of our elected officials are dedicated to their political party and to their constituents. Unfortunately, the political parties are so far apart and the elected officials’ dedication to their political views are so intense, the ability to pass effective legislation is extremely difficult. This leads to a perception that the elected officials don’t care about the country and are incompetent. This is an incorrect perception; however, until our legislative branch achieves some common ground and puts aside adversarial behavior between political parties, the perceptions that lead to horrible approval ratings will show no improvement.
The Executive Branch of the government, simply stated, is the President and his staff. He is tasked to execute the laws that are passed by congress and to insure, through the veto process, that the laws passed by the Legislative Branch are valid.
The world is at a crucial juncture in its’ existence. The United States feels that a country should not impose its’ own beliefs on another country except to allow the citizens of a particular country the right to decide the fate of a country; i.e. democracy. Radicals and individuals around the world feel differently and today this issue is facing the most influential leader of the world, the President of the United States.
Issues such as Russia’s Putin, Israel and Hamas battling each other, an American city in crisis and ISIS spreading across Iraq while decapitating and American for all the world to see has welcomed the newsreader for the last two weeks. During this time our president went on vacation for rest and relaxation. You can bet that he is surrounded with communication support that will allow him to communicate to any leader around the world immediately. He is also surrounded by advisors that provide him with updates on the crisis we face. With all of this in place the biggest issue is perception. The average American and leaders from around the world have the perception that he is disengaged and is not providing the leadership that the country and world requires. The president’s absence from Washington while golfing on vacation appears to the average citizen to be non-caring. While this is probably a non-fair assessment, perception is the most important message at this time and unfortunately this perception is not good. Had the president returned to Washington and remained behind his desk at the Oval Office and addressed the country and the nation, the perception of the leadership of our nation would possibly have been different.
Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

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