Dr. David Koehn is a psychologist practicing in Fort Myers, FL. Dr. Koehn specializes in the treatment of mental health problems and helps people to cope with their mental illnesses. As a psychologist, Dr. Koehn evaluates and treats patients through a variety of methods, most typically being psychotherapy or talk therapy.... more
My Next Life
“Foresight – Learned Intuition”
Since I have moved to the Landings in Fort Myers, Florida, I have met and developed new friends, many of whom are in their eighties and nineties. Their attitude has shaped a new way of thinking as I contemplate my, at least, next thirty-plus years of my life. Looking back over my last seventy-plus years, I am content with my past but still eager to make new things across the phases/chambers of my future life kaleidoscope. I will continue to be active in sports, work as a psychologist for as long as my mind will allow, love my wife and family, and continue my quest for learning. I will make a major effort to be involved in new horizons as I wind up, not down, my next phase of life. I’m sure many of you are familiar with the books Passages/New Passages by Gail Sheehy where she discusses predictable crises in life and how they stretch out in time as we live longer. I would contend that as we get toward the twilight years of our life, it is a rebirth and just a new beginning where we leverage/raise the power of the exponent of our wisdom. Yes, there will be health and aging problems to surmount, adjustments to be made and adaptations required, but success can be attained if one pursues/chases the light. My new life kaleidoscope will be an adventure.
Moving forward in life, I would like to be proficient in another language. Right now, I am leaning towards learning German or French. This may be difficult, given my hearing problems, but I choose to give it my best effort. I would like to take up music, play the piano and sing in a choir. I want to swing more towards my yang in being altruistic and selfless. I want to work out more and be physically fit, have a better handle on my diet/nutrition, and possibly play in national tennis tournaments and win at my age level. Given rotator cuff issues to my dominant right shoulder, I will make a concerted effort to be able to play with my left arm if things do not work out well with my right arm.
As our kids get older, our grandchildren grow up, and our families expand, I want to make sure I am there for them, offering advice, wisdom, and positive optimism when they need it. Being intimately connected is going to be my goal. I want them to feel comfortable that I am available 24/7. Hopefully I will continue to make a difference with my patients and help them deal positively with their life issues.
Being happy is a state of mind, which I am very thankful to be in most of the time. As I get older, the aging process, loss of close ones, and unexpected negative outcomes are going to happen. These type of events can work against you if you let them. What I need to remember is to focus on the wonderful memories, operate "For the Love of It”, and be passionate about emulating the Nike slogan, “Just do It.” Like Dewitt Jones' treatise on finding guides who live their lives with enthusiasm and optimism. I want to make sure that I pass it on to others so they experience the joy and well-being that I feel.
Being a role model is very important to me. Being ethically/morally sound and being a good human being are top on my bucket list. Level six (going beyond the law to do what is just in the world) in Lawrence Kohlberg's stages of moral development is where I want my ethical decision making. I hope everyone I come into contact with sees and appreciates me being this way. I will never be a social butterfly, but I will be attentive, show respect, be empathetic and use effective self-expression. It will be fascinating to see where technology takes us as a society, especially with the explosion of artificial intelligence and nanotechnology. Politically, I hope not to either be a republican or democrat, but help others see what America needs to become if it is to survive and thrive in the future. From my perspective, we need politicians who have the moral courage and leadership to address the big ten mega problems in the United States of America.
Within each of the to-be mentioned issues, systems thinking and critical thinking will need to be applied to unravel the Gordian knot that these unsolved issues have caused. Personally, I believe in having a balanced budget, being in a sound financial position and providing help to the truly indigent. It is a blend of what constitutes the best thinking between being a republican and/or democrat. If the ten mega problems get addressed, my beliefs can be realized. That said, many may say these mega problems are too politically explosive or so complex that the proposed ideas are too unrealistic and impossible to do. My head and heart say that someone(s) will rise to the occasion and move us in a healthy direction.
Issue 1: Modernize our democratic form of government
Having lived in West Germany for three years and attending a major workshop on how their political system and government works, provided me with some new thinking about our democracy. In Germany, about 98 percent of the people vote. Here we are lucky if we get 50 percent to vote. There, people vote for the party and also popularly for the individual. Based on the votes received, the party puts people in office (Bundesrat) who have the technical knowledge/talent to deal with the issues of the day. If the party is not successful in solving the issues, people do not vote in future elections for that party or popularly for the candidate of that party.
Because multiple parties exist in Germany, developing coalitions to make things happen is important, which is quite different than our two-party system that acts bipolar to each other and gets little, if anything, accomplished. The party receiving the most votes within the controlling party then puts in place their candidate to be the head of state. In the USA, we rely on the antiquated Electoral College, where sometimes we reject the one who received the most votes across all the states.
Also, Germany has one constitutional/legislative policy/ruling body (popular vote) called the “Bundestag.” An upper house called the “Bundesrat” exists and acts on an advisory and consent basis to deal with resourcing the sixteen federal states as well as making laws and amendments. Our demographic form of government may benefit from some of these modifications. We need to think about how to leverage technology and privacy to improve voter turnout to include virtual voting. I am afraid if we continue down our current road, it may be arduous, but we are dying a slow death and the USA will only be memory in history.
Issue 2: Make our intelligence community joint
Working in the intelligence community for several years broadened my perspective. We currently have a series of three letter agencies and several more security-based offices/centers embedded across the Federal Government/Military that operate independently. On occasion, they try to be cooperative, however, it's mostly unsuccessfully. Much of the budget and expenses are buried and transparency is in my opinion a joke. I doubt anyone is truly aware of just how much is actually spent and wasted across our intelligence community. Because of fused technology and the possibility for coherence in interoperability, the need today for separate agencies is not required. Being joint makes sense. While a bold statement, intuitively, I sense we would triple our efficiency and effectiveness and could reduce expenditures probably in half if this approach was instituted. Besides making a joint intelligence community, the security clearance system supporting the intelligence community requires a major transformation. For example, areas that require change include: (a) using the current process of multiple and different levels clearance approval; (b) modernizing current technology in deciphering deception; (c) having security clearance operate through contractors versus government-based; and (d) the utter clumsiness/slowness/errors made in securing clearances.
Issue 3: Make our military joint
My thinking in making the military joint comes from having served a short time in the military, working alongside them as a civilian contractor and being employed within the Army in the financial community. Because of the positive impact of technology in making interoperability possible, we should consider eliminating each service to a single entity. The time has come where the presence of separate forces has become extinct. Does Canada have the right formula or are we just making excuses to continue what is? Reinforcing: (1) our stagnant military culture; (2) supporting the glutton of generals/admirals; and (3) over-duplicating services, resources, technology, and processes, are wasteful. Being a joint force makes even better sense than the positive value of making our intelligence community joint. Our savings would be dramatic, and our military capability would be improved. Being a joint force would produce greater flexibility, speed to action, and structural/organizational agility to create the adaptive forces necessary to meet any future challenge.
Issue 4: Redo Welfare System
Our welfare system is broken and both political parties have contributed to its absurd approach to helping people in need. If we step back, what we do is reinforce needy people to be needy. We have, over the years, created a monster, which is a welfare culture of families that have lived that way over decades. Our give-away programs do nothing more than reinforce the needy to not work. If they did work, they would get and make less than staying on welfare. Balancing and pacing payments for working so their incomes would not be less than what they get from welfare would help move them in the right direction. Once their work is based on what they make and equals what they originally got from welfare, the need for welfare payments could be eliminated. We need work-retraining programs, nutritional and family planning, and mental/physical wellness programs.
Issue 5: Revolutionize health care
A big angst of mine is our health care system. The basic question comes down to whether we view healthcare as a right versus a privilege. Greed drives the attitude of many insurance companies, hospitals and big pharma. The tenet often stated is: 'Why should I pay for others? They should be able to pay for what they need and work like I do.' Keeping people paying huge bills to hospitals, creating explosive insurance costs, and subsidizing at an extraordinary rate frp, the drug industry, is what appears to be the underlining mask of false advertising and brainwashing. Altruism is not in the lexicon of those falling on the privilege side. Is the rest of the world that so wrong and the USA so right about not having universal healthcare?
Why does the rest of the world (Europe and Canada) make it work for the most part and many in the USA use scare tactics to keep universal healthcare out of the evolving equation? Personally, I have no concern with paying for others through taxes to have universal health care. This is especially true if we address the other nine interconnected macro issues identified here. As an intermediary solution to universal healthcare, we could look for a creative solution that looks at healthcare as both a benefit and a solution. Current solutions or proposed solutions do neither. It will be interesting to see who steps up to have the moral courage to do what is right. I predict that the disrupter and savior will not come from the political world, but will come from the scientific/technology world. We'll see.
Issue 6: Reform our education
Education has been on a decline for at least the past four decades. The lack of respect, status in society and lack of economic worth of our teachers and professors is not only truly disgusting but has been a factor in the demise of the USA’s educational prowess. We pay entertainers, actors, athletes, and thrill seekers extraordinary money and pay those we entrust with our children a pittance. Teachers do not earn a reasonable income. We put all sorts of demotivating competency requirements on their performance. No wonder our teaching force quality has deteriorated.
A second critical factor is the curriculum has been watered down for the general population of students and not kept up with the times. Students get by doing mediocre work. What use to be a C performance, now gets rewarded as A performance. There is a lack of attention to improving the general curricula to move beyond the basics and keep abreast of societal breakthroughs. Little attention is played to the importance of generating creativity/innovation, powering up STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and math), establishing critical and systems thinking, enriching the arts and building the power of the brain. What is overlooked as to why these things are not dealt with adequately is the lack of educational leadership at the federal, state and local level as well as the general administrative ineptitude demonstrated in running our schools. Take a bad teacher and make them principals. That is a good example of the Peter Principle.
A third factor deals with the question, “Like healthcare should education be free but with twists? Why have we not gone towards helping guide our students to a two-track system much like Germany, that being academic or technical/skilled craft? Are we blind to trends in the world? Why have we let our special needs programs go into the abyss?" Someone needs to stand up to revamp our educational system as well as deal with higher education’s poorly executed student loans and accelerating costs. Just think, taking on the military and intelligence community debacle, could easily provide the means (with surplus) of having the money to do what is right, if well-intentioned educational leadership with the moral courage existed.
Issue 7: Take care of our indigent
Why does America wait until things become a crisis before reacting? Hurricanes, other acts of nature, social and personal tragedies typically bring out the best in humanitarian efforts and volunteerism. What is missing is how society and leadership react prior to these events. They usually act with apathy and detachment, out of sight out of mind. Our homeless, mentally ill, intellectually deficient, addicted, developmentally disabled, injured veterans, prisoners, and immigrants are personally mistreated. Most perceive these individuals as not existing and not in their line of sight. When I went to graduate school at Notre Dame, John F. Kennedy had a scholarship/grant program to help professionals become better at treating and doing research dealing with people who were classified as being indigent. Since I left graduate school in 1974, there has been little follow-on advanced education or research by either political party or philanthropic group. In general, minimal help for the indigent has been forthcoming. How disappointing! Society’s and political premise are to be minimalist at best, albeit often camouflaged as doing really good things. Peeling back the onion reveals just how awfully we sometimes treat the indigent. The attitude is, since they are noncontributory to our society, why put any money or resources towards them? Will there be the moral courage from an enlightened leader who will stand up and do the right thing – I hope so.
Issue 8: Produce effective immigration protocol
America’s DNA is based on immigrants. How we have forgotten our roots and become so narcissistic is just perplexing to me. We no longer live in a closed society, but in a global society defined by the wisdom of crowds. What we need to be thinking about is integrating/inclusiveness not excluding. Using fear tactics, religious intolerance, and pompous-better-than-I attitude, leaves me cold. Our regulations must help and facilitate transition from where one has lived to wanting to share the USA. Can we be an open door to everyone? No. Some degree of criteria and reasonable logic are necessary to be allowed into the USA. Extremism in diplomacy and political chatter has no place in our society. Building a wall appears short-sighted and defies logic. It will not accomplish what it portends to do, it wastes money and belies rational thinking. Oh yes, our holding cells for immigrants awaiting their status is even worse than how we treat inmates in prison.
Issue 9: Maximize gun control
Some see gun control as a constitutional right. How we let gun lobbyists massage politicians into doing nothing borders on criminal behavior. America’s tragedies where lunatics used automatic guns to kill and maim children in schools, innocent bystanders, and people attending concerts is bizarre. These attacks are only escalating, not deceasing. Some say you can never stop such terrible things from happening. The underground will always find a way to get the weapons they want. Is this logical thinking? No! Because you cannot ever predict uncertainty, does not mean you do not put forces in action to curtail its occurrence. Not allowing society to have automatic weapons is not a violation of our constitutional rights. Putting stern restrictions on those who want to purchase semi-automatic weapons that can be turned into automatic weapons seems like a no brainer. Having these potential purchasers be seen first by a mental health professional and cleared through an assessment may be one restriction worth putting in place. Not doing anything is not a solution. Being able to use firearms for hunting and target shooting is reasonable. Weapons sold should be concurrent with doing these activities and nothing more except for collection of antique/unique guns. Sensitizing sellers and the American public through distribution of educational materials is important. Showing the potential negative traits of human beings that could lead to such reckless/needless displays of anti-social behavior is crucial to curtailing such distribution of firearms to those that should not be allowed. Setting up a hotline for targeting these individuals would be a good idea. Having a series of false positives beats dealing with an aftermath of pathological chaos.
Issue 10: Limit bigotry, racism, discrimination, and sexual biases
America has been carrying a huge elephant and anchor since its existence. The false premise by some that White-Male Anglo-Protestant (WASP) rule. America is not only a melting pot of cultural diversity but those considered the minority will in-the-not-too-distant future be the majority controlling force/agent in America. WASP will no longer dominant the scene – this scares the hell out of them. Yet since the last election, there is an outcry for supporting the tenets of white supremacists/neo-Nazism and hating those that clearly threaten their prowess. Examples are: anti-Semitism, anti-black, anti-Muslimism, anti-Mexican, anti-Catholic, and anti-women to name a few. WASPs, whether educated or uneducated, makes no difference. Their attitude/perspective can be fixed and alarming.
What is even more unbelievable is that America appears to be even more bias against woman in power than a black man in power. This was very evident in the past presidential election. People can be easily swayed by accusations that fit their agenda and biases. For example, reasons stated for not voting for Hillary Clinton were: she is a fraud, liar, corrupt and deceitful. Her behavior as the Secretary of State over Bengasi in particular, her foundation work, and her compromised email system made her unfit to be president. These assertions were never completely vetted or analyzed. People ran with these negative points of view. People needed to peel back the onion and probed deeply, to see if anything of any consequence would have been found. Instead enough of the public bought into these allegations, so much so that she lost the election. Many people do not know how to be critical thinkers, their underlying biases come into play quickly when they have an excuse to use. Woman should not be in power. Some WASPs, many blue-collar workers, and even women believe in this highly contentious, misguided schema. Enough felt this way to sway the balance in the electoral vote, not the popular vote. To say the least, the civil war was between the North and South over ideological issues and today we appear to be separated/divided by a Northeast/west coalition versus Southeast/mountain/middle state coalition. The grass roots differences stem from the previously stated biases as well as whether we do things from a selfless versus selfishness perspective.
Foresight and hindsight make up my future outlook. Both are contributing to helping me be successful. Challenges are big and audacious but worth pursuing. I look forward to my next journey with enthusiasm, curiosity, and anticipation of what the adventure holds.