by Carol Anderson, Featured Contributor
I JUST RECEIVED a book marketing piece about our digital future. The tag line on the opening page is “We’re migrating into a digital earth. What happens if we ACCELERATE?”
Hmmm. How do I feel about that? Random thoughts going through my mind as I contemplate that question…
Earlier this week, I had a conversation with my 15 year old grandson about STEM vs liberal arts. He aspires to be an economist, and disdains the “history” he has to study.
A good friend and frustrated American has a tag line on all of her emails, “The great arrogance of the presence is to forget the intelligence of the past.”
I’m currently reading “Russians” . The author’s knowledge of the country comes from his family heritage and from 10 years as an NPR journalist in Russia. One statement about the overwhelming poverty that he describes got my attention. “The poor are pawns in a political-economic system contrived to keep those in power powerful and rich. Although the stake most people have in the going scheme is tiny, it’s been enough to help isolate the majority of Russians from one another and keep them from acting in their common interests by joining forces against the country’s top-down corruption.”
So, how do I feel about ACCELERATING toward a digital earth?
I feel frightened.
I don’t want to go forward, I want to step back and recover those things that made our country great in the first place. It wasn’t science, technology, engineering or math, although individuals who brought those skills to the table found an endless appetite for their work.
It was leadership courage that made our country great. Leadership is all about having a vision that gets people excited, and creating an infrastructure to guide and protect that vision. It’s about coming together for a common purpose, with pride in what has been accomplished. It’s about having the courage to prioritize what is important for the common vision.
To be a great leader, you have to be a great learner, and to be a great learner, you have to learn from everything around you. You learn from the people you lead, you learn from mistakes you make, and you learn from mistakes that were made by leaders before you. You learn from history.
We have some pretty profound teachers in the history of our world, both bad and good. Bad leaders seek power and will step on others to get and keep it. Good leaders seek a common vision and will bring people together to focus on what they have in common. Bad leaders allow special interests to fester and divide, rather than to inspire toward a common purpose. Good leaders create pride; bad leaders tell us that pride is inappropriate.
So how do I feel about ACCELERATING toward a digital earth?
I feel discouraged.
Why have the technology when you live in a country where the words are censored? Why build new technology when the profits go to the government, rather than those who toiled to create them?
I think that is where we are heading unless we recognize, as a country, that being strong is not bad. That being free is priceless. That what we have still have in our country – freedom to do the right thing – is worth all of the sacrifices of those who came before us.
Remember the old saying, “United we stand, divided we fall?”
We are teetering on the brink right now and I hope we have the good sense to remember history, and unite for the common good of our country before it is too late.