Yesterday We Remembered – Today Let’s Lead

Yesterday we remembered all those who “made the ultimate sacrifice” in service to country. Especially since 911, we get all gushy.  We should. We are blessed to live in this great country and blessed by those who have had to fight when the country seemed threatened.

Standing in dizzyingly sharp contrast to our immaculate patriotism is our muddy, heavy, dark cynicism.  You can say you’re cynical about “them,” about Washington, about Congress, but we live in a democracy and so if we’re cynical, we’re cynical about US.  Perhaps you feel hopeless — as I do from time to time — about the undue influence of wealthy people in politics, the changes required if the vast majority of scientists are right about the warming planet, or about our uncompromising approach to guns.*  Those are my issues, and issues about which cynicism envelopes me from time to time.  Perhaps other issues are close to your heart. Perhaps you feel more hopeful.

Well, if you “celebrated” Memorial Day yesterday, then I invite you to not just feel or speak patriotic sentiments but to ACT.

In a democracy we lead. In a democracy our “leaders” follow.  I went to this site to get my Congresswoman’s email address, and I wrote her about guns. After another sick man lays people to waste, I can’t be passive any more.

I challenge you to write…about whatever vision you have for a better America.  When was the last time you did, and in that way,

Led with your best self!


  • Hi Dan,
    You mention the cynicism so rampant in America right now. Optimism has always been seen as naïve by many. I am listening to an audiobook by Peter Diamandis entitled “Abundance”. I have found it to be frighteningly optimistic about our future. Dr. Diamandis has a TED talk that led me to seek out his book.
    There is discussion of imminent breakthroughs in clean water, free energy, medical advances and more. What are your thoughts on the possibility that nanotech, biotech, artificial intelligence or other scientific breakthroughs will change the world’s playing field and help us usher in a new golden age?
    As has been said before, “I want to believe.” There are some major minds working on these problems, but I worry about those in power who may use their influence to slow or even stop these scientific advancements, or who may try to control them to consolidate power. What is the wisdom of the readership as well?

    • Dave,
      I LOVE your optimism. Reminds me of the great line from Colin Powell, “eternal optimism is a force multiplier.”
      Being out in Silicon Valley, there is extraordinary optimism about breakthroughs. We need ’em!
      Let’s hope we all work to keep markets — and the internet — open, so that such breakthroughs get the money and support and deployment we hope, to build the common good.
      Am I being responsive?
      Thanks for weighing in!

  • Hello Dan:
    In the article you mention the “…hopeless…undue influence of wealthy people in politics…”. As people, what we have or do not have does not define who we are. Wealth or a lack thereof, does magnify our character…everywhere you go, there you are. Not sure how you define or describe the “undue influence of wealthy people in politics” that contributes to your occassional feelings of hopelessness, but would really like to know what you mean.

    • Sherry,
      First, I think you mean in your third sentence that “wealth…does [NOT] magnify our character,” right?
      My point is that we often say there is “too much money in politics.” That is a misnomer. It not that there’s too much, it’s that average income – let alone poor people – haven’t the money to get their voice heard. In my view democracy is one-person-one-vote, but we can only vote for those who are able to raise millions (about $1.5 million for congress and $10 million for senate) to run a campaign. And that means that they rely on the wealthy (corporations and individuals) who thus have undue influence.
      Hope this makes my shorthand clearer!

  • I, too, feel have bouts of hopeless and helpless feelings. My ideas and thoughts don’t really matter. I, as a single person, don’t have the clout of big business or an active PAC. When I see leaders making decisions based on politics, I feel the urge to ‘give up’ trying to do the ‘right’ thing. Leaders need to make tough decisions, however, they need to have ALL the facts – not just the ones presented by their peers or their direct reports. At times those facts may be skewed to show themselves in a better light. Leaders need to build an atmosphere of sharing the truth, facing facts without repercussions, not keeping secrets. I believe the scheduling problems at the VA probably can be traced to a lower level manager wanting to hide the problem, while the staff either was fearful to escalate the problem or if they did, their escalation went unheard or uninvestigated.
    Is it more discouraging to make the contact, share the facts and see them do nothing or continue in my passive mode thinking someone else will do it. I don’t think we can continue to wait for others to do it – thanks for reminding me that I, too, need to participate!

  • I commend you on being in communication with your Congresswoman and also want to challenge you as to what you want her to do regarding guns. I treasure the right to bear arms and fear the unintended (or perhaps intended) consequences of a public unable to bear arms legally. The guns are not killing people, people are killing people and they are doing so with more than guns–just in the last couple weeks people have sensationally killed using knives and automobiles. Are you also asking your Congresswoman to outlaw these? That would be silly. What we do need is mental health reform to deal with the people who are doing the killing–they give warning signs that they are very troubled, yet what to do with them or for them to keep them from acting out has not been addressed.

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