Can you see your way clear?

中国日报网 2018-03-30 12:05



Can you see your way clear?Reader question:

Please explain this sentence: “Hey, buddie, can you see your way clear to lend me five bucks?” What does “see your way clear” mean exactly?

My comments:

The speaker begs to know whether his buddie can possibly find a way to do it, lending him (or her) two dollars. In other words, he wants to know if his friend is willing to do it.

See you way “clear” implies that under the circumstances, his buddy probably could not see his way clear, i.e. finding it easy to lend the speaker the money without hesitation or some other difficulties.

Let’s use another example. Say you and a companion are looking from a hill top down at a village in the far distance and you ask your companion whether he or she could find their way clear to walk to that village within an hour. Your companion may say: “If the road behind the woods is straightforward, I can do it; if the road as blocked by the woods and some other places where the roads are blocked by rocks and trees, it would probably take me, or anyone much longer.”

Understandably, you agree with your friend, noting that as all the roads in this area seem to be zigzagging, like mountain roads are wont to be, there’s no reason to believe those parts that are blocked in view are any different. Hence, it may take longer time.

Hence and therefore, the expression “see one’s way clear” implies there are difficulties or hindrances that may make it hard to accomplish a particular task.

In our example, there may be a number of reasons or hindrances that make it difficult for the speaker’s buddy to lend him the money. The speaker knows, for example, that he shouldn’t ask for the money in the first place. This is the third time he’s borrowed money from people and his friend doesn’t want to encourage this habit. Or the friend has lent him money a few times before and he never returned any of it as he promised he would.

Or his buddy simply does not have five dollars on hand. Or something else may be the matter.

Anyways, and in short, to “see one’s way clear to do something” is to be willing to do it and to find the necessary tools to do it – usually in spite of obvious hindrances and obstacles.

Let’s get a clearer view via a few media examples:

1. Each year the number of individuals who have been in the armed forces, not to mention those who have actually fought in combat, grows smaller in America. Almost 70 percent of male citizens over 65 have been in the service; only 12 percent of the guys between 18 and 29 can say the same. Little by little, the notion of the military as technical training for the less prosperous took hold, richly abetted by commercials: it’s not a job, it turns out, but an adventure. At least until you get to Baghdad.

Combine that shift with the roiling skepticism created by Watergate and Vietnam, as well as a long period of peacetime prosperity, and what you have is a growing class of Americans who would fight conscription with neither reservation nor remorse. This includes not simply the functional equivalent of the 19-year-olds burning their draft cards a generation ago, but the parents of many of today’s 19-year-olds as well. The divisions over the war in Iraq and growing mistrust about the justification for the invasion have resulted in a middle-aged middle class who have adapted the old slogan to cover their own kids: hell no, they won’t go.

The VVAF poll found that only 43 percent of draft-age Americans would be willing to comply if the draft were reinstated. Perhaps even more surprising, it found that fewer than half the parents surveyed would want their child to serve. The ruling argument is, and always has been, service to country. But that was when more Americans saw the decisions of their leaders as serving their country, too, not as self-serving.

Besides, if young people are meant to think that military service is noble, recent events have certainly disabused them of that notion. Of course there are soldiers who have served in Iraq with valor and dedication. But the photographs of Americans at Abu Ghraib Prison hardly make a uniform look like a worthy aspiration; instead they look as though they were taken during pledge night in the Sadist House at Dirtbag U. And the attempts by opponents to dirty up the military service of Sen. John Kerry are a valuable lesson to any sentient kid. Somehow the truth can be spun so that a decorated Vietnam veteran who chose to enlist and serve can be made to seem less heroic than a guy who used family connections to avoid combat. Not only do you go to war; when you come home, others denigrate your service, finding you insufficiently maimed.

Who could blame this generation of young Americans if they demurred when the Selective Service came knocking? Even some of those who entered the military under their own steam and enlisted are now claiming conscientious-objector status--and being granted it--because they cannot see their way clear to supporting the war in Iraq. During the Vietnam years, 170,000 of those called up were granted CO status, 40,000 left the country and some went to jail because they believed the war was illegitimate and immoral. But even then, in the thick of the protest years, the average American was more idealistic about the nation and its aims than today. If my brothers had been drafted, my father, a Korean War vet, would have sadly sent them off to basic training. Today he'd buy his grandkids a one-way ticket to Toronto.

- LEAVING ON A JET PLANE, by Anna Quindlen,, September 5, 2004.

2. Donald Trump directly asked the former FBI director, James Comey, to drop an investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, according to notes kept at the time by Comey and first reported on Tuesday by the New York Times.

I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump told Comey, according to Comey’s record of the meeting, as reported by the Times. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

The latest crisis to beset the White House came just 24 hours after the first reports emerged of Trump having shared classified intelligence with Russia during Oval Office talks.

The new development spurred Republicans in the House of Representatives, whose support Trump needs, out of their stance of passive support for the president. Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the oversight and government reform committee, formally asked the FBI to turn over to the committee all “memoranda, notes, summaries and recordings referring or related to any communications between Comey and the president”.

- Donald Trump reportedly urged Comey to drop Michael Flynn investigation,, May 17, 2017.

3. August 27, 1928, in Paris, with due pomp and circumstance, representatives of fifteen nations signed an agreement outlawing war. The agreement was the unanticipated fruit of an attempt by the French Foreign Minister, Aristide Briand, to negotiate a bilateral treaty with the United States in which each nation would renounce the use of war as an instrument of policy toward the other. The American Secretary of State, Frank Kellogg, had been unenthusiastic about Briand’s idea. He saw no prospect of going to war with France and therefore no point in promising not to, and he suspected that the proposal was a gimmick designed to commit the United States to intervening on France’s behalf if Germany attacked it (as Germany did in 1914). After some delay and in response to public pressure, Kellogg told Briand that his idea sounded great. Who wouldn’t want to renounce war? But why not make the treaty multilateral, and have it signed by “all the principal powers of the world”? Everyone would renounce the use of war as an instrument of policy.

Kellogg figured that he had Briand outfoxed. France had mutual defense treaties with many European states, and it could hardly honor those treaties if it agreed to renounce war altogether. But the agreement was eventually worded in a way that left sufficient interpretive latitude for Briand and other statesmen to see their way clear to signing it, and the result was the General Treaty for the Renunciation of War, also known as the Paris Peace Pact or the Kellogg-Briand Pact. By 1934, sixty-three countries had joined the Pact—virtually every established nation on earth at the time.

The Treaty of Versailles, signed in 1919, gets bad press. It imposed punitive conditions on Germany after the First World War and is often blamed for the rise of Hitler. The Kellogg-Briand Pact does not get bad press. It gets no press. That’s because the treaty went into effect on July 24, 1929, after which the following occurred: Japan invaded Manchuria (1931); Italy invaded Ethiopia (1935); Japan invaded China (1937); Germany invaded Poland (1939); the Soviet Union invaded Finland (1939); Germany invaded Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and France and attacked Great Britain (1940); and Japan attacked the United States (1941), culminating in a global war that produced the atomic bomb and more than sixty million deaths. A piece of paper signed in Paris does not seem to have presented an obstacle to citizens of one country engaging in the organized slaughter of the citizens of other countries.

- What Happens When War Is Outlawed,, September 18, 2017 Issue.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

上一篇 : Under the thumb?
下一篇 : Putting your foot down?



















关于我们 | 联系方式 | 招聘信息

Copyright by All rights reserved. None of this material may be used for any commercial or public use. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. 版权声明:本网站所刊登的中国日报网英语点津内容,版权属中国日报网所有,未经协议授权,禁止下载使用。 欢迎愿意与本网站合作的单位或个人与我们联系。