To See Into the Future…
My dad was an educator. He was a superintendent at a very small Southern school system. Before I was born, Brown v. Board of Education declared that separate schools for white and black students were unconstitutional. It was a scary time in the South. When I was very young I remember the separate water fountains at a downtown department store, and I always questioned my parents about them. Luckily for me, my parents were quite progressive. I believe my dad was a visionary. On a small scale, but a visionary nonetheless.
I learned a lot about the world at the dinner table. My father was a man of integrity. He told me many of the finest people he knew were “colored”, the term African Americans were given at the time. He would tell me that change was good; it was the time for all people in America to be considered equal. I believed him. I asked about the water fountains at JC Penney. He assured me that it was time for that to go, too. I was glad. Every night during this time of desegregation of the public schools, a police car sat in front of our house. My dad received angry calls, but he was resolute. He would calmly talk to parents and tell them that it was a good thing. Just as he would explain to me at the dinner table, he would also tell them, “We are looking to the future. We cannot go back. We have already been there. There will be rough times, but we must move ahead, to the future.” And that we did. This tiny school system became a model. Everything he did was new, different, ahead of its time. It worked for his students, and education became a focus for the community. His love of education was felt by parents and students; they all were proud of how cutting edge their school was. Everybody forgot Brown vs Board Of Education. Sadly, today, people are talking about racism again. But we can not do that. We left all of that in the past. We must keep moving forward. My dad’s vision has stayed with me all my life.
Visionaries change lives. They are fearless. Visionaries have no use for people who cannot see the future, for they are too busy always going back to the past. Remember Henry Ford? He was going to build automobiles. People did not like the idea. Henry Ford described them, “If I had asked people what they wanted they would have said faster horses.” I once heard a story on a morning show about Steve Jobs. There was an actress he wanted to meet when he was still a single man. Somehow, a meeting was arranged when he was visiting New York. He picked up this actress and her description of the night was very funny. She said that from the minute they met, through dinner, and until he dropped her off, all he talked about was computers. When he finally left her, she said to herself, “This guy is crazy!” Now she says, “I was the crazy one. I am now helpless without his Mac!” Look at Elon Musk today. His visions are amazing. His cars are stunning. But he says it is not just cars he wants to sell, but rather a new way to live. Visionaries inspire me. They urge us to think of the impossible. To look into the future.
Today, we are at a crossroads in America and around the world. Many people see the future: humanity as one…clean air and water…a good standard of living…education for all. But there are those that cannot see into the future. They keep going back to the past. We cannot do that. I am telling you, we have already done that. We must step into the future. For if we all work towards a better future, we all become visionaries. It is visionaries that change the world. I am ready. Are you?