The world is in a bit of a funk right now. The cherished elements of human progress and life quality assumed as the societal pinnacles for most of the twentieth century – good government, impartial laws, secure health, universal education, individual freedom, and unfettered commerce – are tottering, and we seem unable to know what to do to re-invigorate them. Europe, having sustained two devastating world wars, looked to the collectivist instinct and social safety net, building eventually the greatest guarantee of a life comfortably safe from the pain of failure or circumstance, yet it now finds an unmotivated, unhappy population, and a surging inability to financially underwrite the created lifestyle. America, the beacon of personal freedom and achievement, is progressively committing itself to the same kind of securities for its population it has viewed in European society, accepting progressively oppressive indebtedness at the very moment it sees its European cousins collapsing under theirs. The Arab world, so long under the yoke of dictatorial regimes, has risen to throw off the oppressors, only to appear to except an even more oppressive religious dogmatic rule. The Asian behemoth China hurtles forward to modernize at an unabsorbable rate, ignoring its internal conflicts to aggressively project upon its wary neighbors India, Korea, and Japan a new subtle hegemony.
What the heck is going on? The air feels heavy and stagnant, the humidity high, the threat of rain and storm on the horizon. The sense of helplessness and inevitability of a lesser existence continues. The world’s human spirit is feeling worn; almost as if it is tired of the burden and simply waiting for a new species to take over. Its not just economic recessions, scarcity of resources, theoretical climatic doom, or looming conflicts that suppress the primordial fight or flight response of individuals. It seems progressively our innate give-a-damn is busted.
I really think a large part of the collective funk is the world’s indifference lately to seek great leaders who worked to achieve great universal truths without regard to their personal advancement. Where is the Arab world’s George Washington, who threw the tyrants out, secured his nation’s future, then threw himself out to prevent any possibility of despotism? Where is Europe’s Abraham Lincoln, who recognized the importance of a federal unity while carefully protecting the capacity and rights of every individual citizen? Where is China’s Konrad Adenauer, who can marshal the enormous potential of his citizens while respecting and working with his neighbors to the benefit of each? Where is Islam’s Martin Luther King, who spoke from the depth of his religious conviction about the universal basic rights of all people, regardless of individual circumstance, color, or creed? Where is America’s Alexander Hamilton, who recognized the balance between the national investment and the individual responsibility to create the foundations for the greatest economic engine the world has ever seen?
I am fairly certain they are out there, but classic selflessness is not currently considered an attractive virtue. The American experience currently may be the test best as to whether the world is willing to wake up and look for leaders that project our better nature. The current American President, enmeshed in an economic downslide progressively of his own making, is incapable of putting forth an agenda that frames clearly the problems we face, nor propose recognizable and constructive solutions. He is post modernist, reaching back to past strategies to provide securities to the populous supposedly denied ignoring the effect of those strategies on the future. He is a created hologram of an inward looking society that wanted its President to look, sound, and emote a certain way, but never assessed as to whether the experience or track record of achievement was there to act. The result is a political process that doesn’t remotely correct the inequities of the past, while assuring through its actions the inability to solve this problems in the future. We have as a society, through this man, achieved perfect political irrelevancy.
I think the world is going to watch America over the next year to see if the concept of leadership will come back into vogue. Is there a collective will to see the re-establishment of common sense, restoration of personal responsibility, return of right and wrong, promotion of individual talent and creativity, and mature and aggressive true shared sacrifice to secure the nation’s future? Will a leader come out of the current malaise to harness human capacity and articulate the path to a better future? The world will watch closely to see if the country most designed for course correction can self correct. The way forward is fairly well delineated. Lets see if America, and the world, can once again accept the better angels of our nature, and recognize the current pathfinders that mirror those that at one time were celebrated in our textbooks.