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Patt Cottingham

Patt Cottingham

Posted: October 17, 2009 11:42 AM

Goodbye/Hello 14 "Burning The Ships "

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In 1519 the Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez anchored his 11 ships off the Yucatan Peninsula. Thousands of miles of ocean separated him from Spain and reinforcements. The Aztec Empire with tens of thousands of warriors ruled Mexico at that time. Cortez in an ambitious conquest only had 608 men, 16 horses and a few cannons in his small ships. In what would have appeared overwhelming odds against him, he ordered his men on shore. In the middle of the night the encampment awoke to men's voices yelling Fire! Fire! The 11 ships, which were their only means of retreat back to home and civilization, were burning. Some of the men immediately began to row out to fight the blaze, but to their astonishment, Cortez stopped them. He told them that he had ordered the ships burned. Cortez knew that for his mission to be successful he and his men could have no option for retreat. They would have to totally commit to conquering this new land.

What ships should we be burning? What impaired systems should we release and not give ourselves the option to retreat to them? The polarization between the democrats, republicans, and lobbyists in Washington has become a dysfunctional structure of no returns, with withering hope to steer towards lasting reforms. What if the citizenry committed to and called for a new way of going forward? A new structure designed with a lot more citizen engagement, based on the principles of the Constitution; where the power lies in the hands of the people.

As a country and citizens we will never conquer the problems of our times unless we have the courage to get out of our comfort zones and burn a few ships that can no longer take us to where we want to go. Like Cortez we have to commit totally to our goals for:


A healthcare insurance system that is on the moral high ground

An educational system that teaches all to be exceptional

A financial system that is far more just in securing a good life for everyone

An energy policy that addresses global warming today not tomorrow

A foreign policy that is guided by strength, tempered with respect,
and looks at war as one of last resort

It is time for the citizens to take back this country through their voice, their votes, their pocketbooks, their boycotts, and their passion for the mission of we the people. Keep what is good and glorious about America and burn all escape routes that detour us from
the principles on which our country was founded.

Goodbye to ships that give us escape routes to more dysfunction
Hello to citizens not retreating even if it appears that the odds are against us.

Goodbye to abandoning goals to the land of the known and comfortable
Hello to citizens committing to goals that call for courage to the higher ground

Goodbye to sailing backwards to fruitless shores for the good of none
Hello to citizens sailing forwards to new shores for the good of everyone