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America Now Stands on the Sidelines

I heard someone claim, “You can’t lead from the sidelines.” While looking for the author of this quote, I found the following words from Shirley Chisholm, “You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.”

Why these quotes about sidelines? On June 1, 2017, America moved out of its place as THE leader of the free world and stepped onto the impotent sidelines. We relinquished our connections to 200 national leaders who at least claim they will work to improve the world atmosphere. In our withdrawal, we joined Nicaragua and Syria. No one questions why Syria did not join. Nicaragua tells a different story.

Paul Oquist, who represents Nicaragua at the Paris meetings claims that unlike the Kyoto Protocol in 1998, no consequences currently exist if any country fails to maintain its promises. Whether or not one agrees with Nicaragua’s position, I maintain that only those at the table can make a correction concerning this issue.

Currently, Nicaragua ranks 131st in carbon emissions. Regrettably, the US ranks second in the world, which means only China emits more carbon than we do. Those who do more harm should contribute accordingly. Nothing sounds more childish than to claim unfair treatment from other nations. When I hear this complaint, I consider efforts to help high-needs children.

Teachers who work with special education students often hear complaints of unfairness from other children. I always respond, “Fair means each individual gets what that person needs in order to learn and succeed.” Equal treatment ignores individual differences. On the other hand, equity provides what each individual actually needs to make progress. As we should behave with children, we must act among nations. Equity overrides equality. Nations, like children, arrive with differing needs and abilities.

Even if the Paris Agreement does not represent perfection, I believe we should be involved, striving to improve the agreements and seeking to lead other nations to care for the planet. I fear we will have little or no influence from the sidelines.

Even North Korea joined the Paris Accord. The United States now stands on the sidelines with Syria and Nicaragua. I weep with regret that we no longer lead the free world. From the sidelines, we pout and complain.

Work Cited:

Cabral, Angelica. “Why Isn’t Nicaragua Part of the Paris Agreement?” future tense. June 1, 2017.

Chisholm, Shirley. “Sideline Quotes.” AZ QUOTES.

Evans, Bryce. “Don’t Lead from the Sidelines.” RATCHET+WRENCH. . June 29, 2012.


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