Today we start with a classic riddle. What came first: the chicken or the egg? The answer? It depends! Today’s instant question is: How can America thrive in a world of contradictions? And, what will it take to create the conditions necessary to see us thrive once again?
We will largely stay away from politics and concentrate on the simple truths of living. Whether you live in the far artic as Inuit Indian tribes do, or are a Wyoming rancher, or a city dweller in New York City, we survive through the application of three basic institutional processes:
1. Institutional knowledge: Every organization develops over time a sense of what works and what doesn’t. Successful organizations recognize this and undertake a process for recording what works while avoiding what failed in the past.
2. Adherence to the societal rules of your organization: Let’s be realistic. You can’t be running around like a chicken with its head cut off and be successful. Your team must not work against each other or what is known to work. Organizations must reinforce successful actions and, avoid past mistakes while still encouraging innovation.
3. Support from the ground up for the organization’s leadership: There are few successful organizations that are constantly conducting internal warfare. All hierarchical organizations depend on great top-down leadership to set tone and goals that then allows for a successful buy-in by the rest of the organization. Throw away any false ideas you may harbor that everyone can do whatever they want and the organization will still achieve success.
Without these three prerequisites in play, chaos reigns. Assuming your organization (family, village, city, state, country, company) has successfully implemented these three essential tenants, you have a functioning entity that is in balance. Today, I want to talk about how organizations get off balance, specifically our country. I am reminded of my physics class in High School all so many years ago. Newton’s First Law of Motion states:
“An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”
The United States, right after the Second World War, was the undisputed and sole superpower in the world. We had the moral authority, the industrial might, the military power, diplomatic influence, the inventiveness, and were an economic dynamo that seemingly was unstoppable. And, then gradually, starting in the early 1970s, much like the famous song American Pie, the music gradually stopped playing throughout our great land, landing us where we are today. I’m 65 years old. This is not the country I grew up in and that’s not a good thing. Nothing was impossible for my generation and preceding generations. We sent men to the moon more than 50 years ago. We built the Interstate Highway System, we created computers, the Internet, and the cell phone among thousands of innovations that enriched the entire world. Yes, we have our faults, but families were strong, economic opportunity was everywhere and the entire world saw all boats raised in our wake.
What went wrong? What force changed our direction? How did we lose our way? Why do we seek the destruction of our heritage, our heroes, and our country? Today, we are going to attempt to answer these key questions with the hope that we can see our mojo return before it’s too late and we completely abdicate the mantle of world leadership.
Contenders are waiting in the wings and they are not nearly as beneficent as we have been. China seeks to control its citizens like so many machines, where only the state matters. You can witness it in real- time as tens of millions of Chinese were restricted to their homes due to Covid, sometimes without food. You saw it as the government killing pets when the orders came to vacate homes by the thousands. The truly evil Chinese Social Credit System rules your life and limits your potential. You see it in the bullets to the back of the head for those that raise their voice against the oppressors. Taiwan sees China’s political ambitions, as almost all South China Sea nations also see this developing evil and are starting to band together against an ascendant China that seeks to replace the United States as the world’s leader, but not in such a benevolent manner. We dare not see that happen.
So, what exactly has so undercut our country to the point we are at today? Journalism today creates no more Huntley-Brinkley’s, no more Walter Cronkite’s, Edward R. Murrow, and others who told you the truth, even when it hurt. They were Patriotic individuals with no agenda, no slant, no desire to be thought leaders or something other than what they were supposed to be, i.e., to…deliver the news that was relevant and important to understand. We’ve lost that and, in the process, we’ve lost the trust of millions and millions of thinking individuals who are no longer able to make rational decisions based on nothing but the truth. The truth of conflicting “facts” that are anything but and, unreported but important stories has created a knowledge vacuum in our country that is an immense factor in where we are today. Talking Heads exist on all sides and deliver Sound Bite Journalism to a population that is both inpatient and untrusting (or believe everything they hear) of what they are told or read.
Negativism has become a firestorm in our country and is a cancer that is at the root of many of the problems we live with today. If we can’t trust the information we are given, not only do we birth even more mistrust, but we also create the lunatic fringes that make up their own truth in the absence of generally accepted truth. We did this to ourselves. Therefore, it is incumbent on us to fix the problems we created.
I have no idea how we can quickly return our country to a well-informed, patriotic, family-oriented, God- fearing, hard-working society. Millions and millions missed out on belonging to a traditional family unit and a society that understood what was required of them, understood implicitly how they fit in, and, trusted and even lionized their leaders. We live in an anti-truth environment that has turned how we think about ourselves on our heads. Are we ripe for a revolution? Maybe so. Like a storm that continues unabated until balance is restored, we need a great national leader to help us restore balance, direction, and trust in our country. We need this leader to guide us peacefully back on course and to forestall the possibility of a new Civil War that is closer than many of us might believe.
Just a few days ago I was bowled over by Matthew McConaughey’s speech delivered at the White House. If you haven’t heard it, you owe it to yourself to listen closely to see how a great communicator delivers sage advice and positive and reasonable reconciliation ideas on a tough subject. I don’t have to agree with everything someone says when I listen to a person who speaks authentic truth. I wish we had more communicators like him.
I wish I knew who that next leader, that healer might be. I maintain hope that regardless of the dearth of leadership today, it will happen, soon or later. We can’t lose the greatest country on earth, the greatest force for good on our planet and that bright beacon of hope so much of the world has depended on without going down fighting. For the time being, stay engaged and do what you can to live a good, uplifted life!
A famous line from Gone with the Wind delivered by Scarlett O’Hara was, “Tomorrow is Another Day.” Friends, every new day presents us with possibilities. I see small embers that only need us to fan them into the kind of fire we all need to warm and nurture our society. I believe that we are building a critical mass of heretofore unknown leaders that will lead us back to the Promised Land that so many of us ache to return to. Let’s be ready when that next great leader reveals an uplifting and doable message, a future we so desperately seek!
God Bless America and especially Ukraine at this time of genocide and war that sees no end in sight.
Allan J. Feifer