“I am glad that I am old.”
It was an odd and surprising comment from my 80+ year old friend. She is the most upbeat and positive person that I know. She has triumphed over adversities throughout her life by focusing on the silver lining. To her, behind every dark corner is a bright opportunity. She has been my role model.
My friend is also a lifelong Republican with solid Midwestern values who recently abandoned her party when Trump became its leader.
“I don’t want to live in the world that we are leaving,” she continued. “There is so much anger here, I am heartbroken that women will probably lose their right to choose, I can’t understand the rise in white supremacy.”
She continued. “I was a Rockefeller Republican, fiscally conservative and socially liberal. I didn’t think that my party’s core values of independence would allow them to take away women’s rights or curtail voting. We now have the worst of both parties, socially conservative Republicans and fiscally irresponsible Democrats.”
She sighed. “But most of all, it is the environment. I would not want to live in the world that is coming; climate change, population explosion, it may already be too late.”
We never discussed politics and after the conversation, I felt somewhat fearful. This was a person who could find a silver lining when she was told that she was going to lose her eyesight!
Looking for something to take my mind off our conversation, I turned on a NOVA program about electric airplanes.
It may not be widely known that airplanes are among our worst polluters…even creating cirrus clouds to increase the greenhouse effect. However, this program featured entrepreneurs who are creating innovative solutions to solve the problem. From electric helicopters that average citizens can drive, to small electric planes that can deliver packages and people; there are a myriad of ideas and innovations. Other innovators are proposing hybrid solutions to reduce emissions; while another team is adding electric fans to reduce the wing size to save fuel. Still another company has been working for 13 years to produce hydrogen powered planes whose waste emission is water. And finally, NASA is creating a blueprint for lanes for small planes, helicopters, and hybrids to fly alongside commercial aviation. Most of the innovators are US based companies.
These innovations are years away. The planes look like the early cars, funny looking vehicles that can be remotely piloted or carry a small family without endangering themselves or the environment.
And once again, science and entrepreneurship are trying to rescue us…and after the COVID 19 vaccine, I have faith that there is no problem that science and these young entrepreneurs can’t solve.
Then I was reminded of something that my grandfather said. “Always bet on this country.”
We are a nation of innovators with a strong independent and confident streak. Yea, I’ll bet on this country, too.
Angela Rieck, a Caroline County native, received her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland and worked as a scientist at Bell Labs, and other high-tech companies in New Jersey before retiring as a corporate executive. Angela and her dogs divide their time between St Michaels and Key West Florida. Her daughter lives and works in New York City.