Six years ago I was at the Republican presidential debate at the University of Miami. At this point, there was still a stage full of Republican contenders but already it was becoming the “Trump Show” and the discussions seemed to revolve around his acidic personality. This has been an interesting six years since then for sure, but regrettably, the divide in America continues to grow and our policies are driven more by politics and personalities rather than vision.
The deeper the contention, the weaker we become as a country. Self-inflicted wounds go deep and become the kind of wounds that never heals. I fear we are on that kind of path.
To use the poet’s words ‘I am perpetually awaiting a rebirth of wonder.” I await the wonder of the miracle creation of a country founded on the concept of the strength of the individual; freedoms for all to have dreams and to be able to pursue them; a limited government that reflects the goodness of the potential of the American spirit; and the real shining city on the hill described by John Winthrop.
To be that again, in my view, we need servant leaders who exemplify the goodness that is America, who carry joy within their hearts, the necessary weapons in their fists when needed, and who stand up as examples of how to be that servant leader for all to see. Right now, I’m not seeing much of that.
We need leaders who can foster a creative tension toward changes we desire. They must have the strength to be honest about our present realities while offering key visions to help us achieve the goal of building a path from where we are now, our reality.
This is no mean task. The natural tendency is to shrink from change, even towards betterment, since risk aversion is in the human DNA. But we can be a strong people. Our ancestors were strong risk-takers. Otherwise, we would never have survived as a nation.
Peter Senge, a prominent thinker and scientist, had a strong influence on my doctoral work. His focus was on building learning organizations. I envision our country as an organization in huge need of being a better learning organization, where we take our lessons from the past, understand our current realities and embrace leaders capable of painting a vision we can use to take us where we wish to be. Finding the needed leaders is the task before us–and, of late, this task has not seen or produced our best talent.
In Senge’s words, “the natural energy for changing reality comes from holding a picture of what might be that is more important to people than what is.” Right now, that vision is in full blur mode. What do we want to be? What do we need to do to be that shining city on a hill?
We must ask ourselves these questions over the next eight months as we get closer to a critical election; one which will create the path our country takes.
Dr. Ed Moore served for many years as the president of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF) and has served in both the legislative and executive branches of Florida government. Prior to ICUF, Dr. Moore was staff director for policy, for Worker’s Compensation, for Medical Liability and for Public Safety and Security in the Florida House of Representatives. He also worked in the private sector for 21 years.
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