As a child, you learn to recognize the signs confronting you. You look up at the sky and see clouds rolling in, grey clouds, and you know to leave the field before a downpour. On the playground, you see a bunch of kids gathering, see their body language, their peering over at you or your group and are forewarned that conflict is about to begin.
All through life, signs we pick up on are instinctively necessary to keep us safe. When you become an adult you watch for signs in the stock-market trends, or listen to rumors in your company about financial shifts or personnel changes on the wind. The police use criminal signs to out-smart or prevent crime. At night you walk the streets listening, watching for signs of danger. Soldiers use signs on the battlefield to spot the enemy and estimate movement; a puff of dust here, a trail of smoke there, sounds of an engine revving. Without seeing signs, recognizing them, and then acting on them, most of life's perils would come to pass.
Seeing the signs, reacting to signs keeps you and your family safe.
Around the world, if you listen, if you want to know, there are worrying signs that will affect your everyday life. You may think that "over there" means nothing to America "at home." But the world is 100% connected now. Your signs come from far away – on the Internet, with the products you buy and rely on, and with the raw materials every corporation in America is dependent on. Not listening to the signs from around the world is like hearing glass break downstairs at night and assuming your bedroom door is enough to keep you safe.
Here's just one sign, to demonstrate the reach, the listening reach, you need to have. Career diplomats from the USA and their counterparts around the world interviewed on radio are almost terrified that 46 USA ambassadorial posts are still vacant, embassies understaffed by 60% and almost in a bunker mode. That has never ever happened before since the time of Lincoln. They say, in Belarus, we're abandoning democracy, abandoning the American global call of freedom and human rights. In addition, there are 15 nominated ambassadors who have yet to even meet with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. That makes 61 ambassadorial posts empty around the world. Which Embassies? Australia, Argentina, Belarus (critical for Russian affairs), Belgium (home of the EU), Columbia (drug coordination), Congo (Chinese mining take-over), Cuba, Egypt (critical for the Middle East affairs – and note that Russia just opened a military base there which the past 6 presidents worked hard to prevent), the EU (!), Germany, Hungary, Jordan (where 600,000 Syrian refugees are being radicalized without US assistance or aid), Morocco (gateway to the Mediterranean Sea), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE, the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization), Saudi Arabia (!), Somalia (breeding ground for al-Shabaab and al-Qaida), South Africa, South Korea (yes, incredible as it seems, it is vacant), Tanzania, Turkey (allowing that dictator free reign), UN Geneva (human rights), UN Vienna (Space affairs), Venezuela (no one to support pro-democracy there), and Yemen (not like that's a hot spot!).
The daily tweets, the nonsense of reckless despotic over-sexed men, the DC power-plays to make the rich beyond rich as a thank you – all these are signs, yes, but they become gossip, moral indignation, and water-cooler fodder. The signs you need to be watching to protect you and yours are the erosion or blowing-up of traditional American values; the dismantling of relations with real allies, of Reagan's "Shining City on the Hill" countries could aspire to, of both Kennedys' call for unity of humanity, of Martin Luther King Jr.'s call for freedom for all people, and, of course, sex and racial equality for Americans if only as a shining example to the rest of the world. We used to lead by example and that's what is expected of our country. The signs are, now, an example no other country should want to aspire to. Time we see ourselves as we appear to others.