Clear The Decks

Thus, we have national security items being “WikiLeaked,” possibly to the detriment of our troops; anonymous “bloggers” and “tweeters” and “Facebookers” calling for revolutions in places that are already tumultuous and need stability rather than revolt, which leaves the door open to even more radical leaders; opposing sides of local, regional, national, and international issues being able to generate acrimonious statements at the speed of typing or texting, with little or no demand to take responsibility for the consequences.

The current political candidates–who are supposed to be focused on the best interests of the electorate–are focused instead on responding to misinformation spread at lightning speed.

This has occurred at a local, personal level. I’ve seen normally rational people react irrationally to something they heard or read via email or other mass-communication devices without first checking its veracity. Misinformation spreads like a tsunami; corrections are like drips in a bucket.

And like the gun captain’s actions, even though the cool-down period may lead to some level of normalcy, the damage has already been done; the ship is already in peril.

What’s Changed

However, in the case of the original loose cannon, there was an authority that ensured responsibility was followed by accountability. With today’s loose cannons, there is no single, central authority to hold court; even if one attempts to do so, lawyers will find loopholes.

The similarity between the loose cannon of hundreds of years ago and the loose cannons of today is they both are driven by forces larger than themselves. In the 17th century, the inanimate cannon was driven by wind and waves. In the 21st century, the living cannons are driven by winds of change and waves of unrest–both powerful forces.

The major difference, of course, is that 21st-century cannons are breathing, reasoning, supposedly intelligent humans who do have options other than blind thrashing. They can research the issues, can determine right from wrong, can listen to other perspectives, and can choose to act as human beings and not like an inanimate cannon-monster.

Now, how does one make the loose cannons understand this? Any ideas?

Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine, who also served until recently in municipal parks and recreation, lives in Peachtree City, Ga., and can be reached at (678) 350-8642 or email

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  1. Pride And Pirate Ships
  2. Changing Public Policy
  3. Ground Rules
  4. Share The Revenue
  5. Charting A Course

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