The Bold Shoulder
By R. D. Flavin


     Most of us, unfortunately, have at one time or another experienced the 'cold shoulder' treatment when someone ignores or displays some form of contempt. Indifference is in a whole different category... However, a bold shoulder, that is, one which you can seek comfort in, protect you, and depend on to withstand the pressures many of us couldn't, is a precious rarity. No, I'm not referring to Atlas or Heracles bearing the weight of the world (though, as a metaphor, it might work), the bold shoulder confronts, commiserates, and sometimes must accept criticisms which others cannot. There may not be many, but we're thankful they exist.

     Before I bore and explore examples, I should like to make absolutely clear my usage of “bold” shoulder or shoulders, is in no way influenced or inspired by Sandburg's famous poem (Sandburg, Carl. 1914. “Chicago.” Poetry. 3, 6: 191-192) and his description of the Windy City (my birthplace) as the “City of the Big Shoulders.” There's big, broad, stout, strong, and many other adjectival terms denoting strength and power, yet my usage of 'bold' discusses character.

Kanzlerin Merkel making a little girl cry...

     In the United States, we think of Mexicans illegally crossing our southern border, when we consider 'our' immigration problem (though no one seems to care about the number of Canucks who snow-mobile or drive over 'our' northern border to do whatever it is Canadian folks do), although many other nations have their own immigration problems which often go unrecognized in the American media. The classic example is, of course, the plight of the so-called Gypsies or Roma, who were forced from their native country, India, because they belonged to the lowest of the lower castes. Left to wander, they soon collectively forgot their homeland, and were and are considered the vagabonds of Europe. Sold as slaves across much of Europe until 1855, and even then, England made special allowances for certain companies. But, I digress... Immigration has hit all of Europe quite hard during the last few decades.

     Italy, France, and England are bewildered without a viable solution, while Germany has taken a rather stern approach. Last week, the German Chancellor, Angela Dorothea Merkel, informed a sobbing Palestinian teenager (and her family) that they must be deported because Germany "just can't manage" any more immigrants. Tough love, bold shoulder, and an economic truth in spite of the naysayers who imagine money grows on trees somewhere in Bavaria. It had to be done and I, at least, believe there was commiseration and regret.

     As part of a US-led coalition including Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, Britain has agreed to participate in Iraq air-strikes against ISIS (Islamic State theocratic mass-murderers), but nothing “official” has yet been released concerning Syria, though some elite ground-troops (“Task Force Black”) have been coordinating with the coalition as well as helping to train the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters. Now, comes word there have been British air-strikes in Syria against ISIS, al-Qaeda, and perhaps maybe a few shots at Assad for good measure. British Prime Minister David Cameron is taking considerable heat for his choices, though I would advance he's shown a bold shoulder in his actions.

     It's long past the giving of flowers and the awkward first date, so now it's time to see if Pres. Barack Obama via his representative, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Iran's chief negotiator, Mohammad Javad Zarif, will achieve the “Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran's Nuclear Program” which both have struggled over for many months, now that the proposal has passed to the US Congress for approval. The so-called P5+1 – the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany – along with the European Union (yeah, the arithmetic seems like an example of 43's “fuzzy math”) must await the Windbags from The Hill to either blow their chance for peace or continue down a path of ugly consequences. Of course, Israel would have Iran nuked now and be done with it...

     After the unprecedented appearance before Congress by the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, Pres. Obama has shown a bold shoulder by following through with his plans for peace with Iran. Sure, those “Israel must be destroyed” and “Death to Americans” rants do challenge one's patience, but no reasonable alternative proposal has yet emerged and I applaud Pres. Obama for pressing ahead. Retreat is not an option.

US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

     I must also give kudos to the European Union and their bold shoulders for the handling of the bail-out fiascoes stemming from a stubbornly asinine Greek government. Communists and the fascist Golden Dawn (Greek: Χρυσή Αυγή) [Note: NOT the London-based Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a ceremonial magic group whose primary years were from 1888 to ca 1913.], extended the idealistic 'Greek' sense of independence (cough...) whose own citizens were as torn as, say, the US Civil War, or more properly, the basis of author Nikos Kazantzakis's The Last Temptation of Christ (1960, English translation; New York: Simon and Schuster),” and how Jesus and Judas were nearly identically looking frenemies, yet differed in both the identification of the problems and the possible answers.  One was the allegorical and fiction of Kazantazakis's political world, with direct parallels with the current arrogant agenda of the Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras and his supporters. Yet, with common sense, the Greek populace has voted down the austerity programs advanced by Tsipras, and the European Union has used their bold shoulders to forgive the indiscretions and ideological anarchy with the goal of keeping Greece as part of the EU and the Western world. Bold shoulders, indeed, to face malice and provide comfort which both and all may survive and prosper. Well, with a knock on wood, of course..   

Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras and a clown.

     We, honestly, both give and receive the occasional cold shoulder. A bold shoulder sometimes escapes our appreciation, we take certain behavior for granted. I appreciate such, though ...what? Karmic padding? Sweaters knitted by those who don't know how to knit? How about simple recognition and acknowledgment? Maybe just, “Thanks...”

Some clods are dull, yet others are tasty,

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