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Gary Thornock's Weblog » Wake-up calls
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7th Jul, 2005

Wake-up calls


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On Pete Ashdown's weekly chat tonight, one of the participants noted that many of our government agencies are becoming calcified, and that we as a country may need, and may be heading for, a painful wake-up call. (I'm paraphrasing this; the transcript hasn't been posted yet, and I already closed my IRC window.)

I agree in part. We do need a wake-up call, but it doesn't necessarily need to be painful — in fact, it would be better if it were not. What is really needed is something that, like the race to the moon in the 1960's, can engage the interest, the imagination and the creativity of the nation. Painful events, like the terrorist attacks in 2001 and the attacks in London today, engage not our interest and imagination, but rather our outrage, and lead us down an entirely different path. As we see from some of the policies, laws and "security" measures that have arisen post-9/11, down that path lies madness.

There are certainly plenty of worthy projects that, if they were presented to the public in the right way, could serve to engage our interest, imagination and creativity. We have, for instance, a certain fascination with space exploration. Developing economical sources of alternative energy would be a great project. So would improvement in education. What's really needed is someone with the vision and the resources to take up any one of the many available, worthwhile causes, and promote it to the public in a way that gets the nation interested in the project.

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[…] The latter source of apathy is countered by leadership. The primary function of leadership is to encourage participation in a shared vision. I've written before about the need to engage the interest, the imagination and the creativity of the people in a good cause, much as the leadership of this country did decades ago in the effort to go to the moon. Our history is replete with examples of the great things that can be done, when the people participate in a shared vision, and our present day holds many examples of things that could yet be done, and things that should be done, when we do it again.   […]

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