Missing The Vision Thing

Once upon a time in a land far, far away….

We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people….We choose to go to the Moon…and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win. (John F. Kennedy, 1962)
I still have a dream [that]…one day this nation will rise up and live up to its creed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream (Martin Luther King, Jr.1963)

Don’t you just love these visions statements and what they stood for?

Beyond the actual release of Nelson Mandala, nothing in the last half century has stirred emotions and been imprinted on the minds of so many as the visions of Kennedy and King. When spoken they wrought a steely firmness to the body, a glimmer to the eyes, an inspiration to heart, and liberated souls. They spoke to who we were. What we lived for. And, to what we must become.

But those visions are more than 50 years old. Kennedy’s technology is here. But has it delivered the knowledge and rights for the progress of all people? We now have god-like technology. But we lack vision. King’s civil rights were codified. But did we rise up to deliver on the American dream? Obama broke the mold. But still there is no vision.

None of us have much time on the island called life. There must be more than amusing and working ourselves to death. We should strive to be part of something bigger. Something that makes a real difference. Not martyrdom, just a sense of moving civilization forward. It is not about making history or legacy. It is simply doing the right thing — now.

I’m a worried man with a worried mind*

At no time in history have we been so connected with a 360-degree view of our space and time. Technologically, the end zone is reachable. We can see the scarcity, poverty and disease of the past is almost past. We can see civilization beyond borders to a shared self-actualizing manifest destiny.

Yet, there is no vision to pull us forward. Instead our grasp is solely on business economics, narcissistic fashion and egotistical politics. We make shiny toys well, but miss humanity. We obsess over followers but have no leaders. We know what is hot and not, but not what is irrelevant and relative.

We excel at preening and posing. Detached and atomized we roam a barren internal space. The chaotic external detritus is for unknown others to contemplate. We mastered the look and feel. Today’s institutions have the rigidity and utility of Stonehenge. Yet we live in an era where liquid metal machines offer promise. Meanwhile nonsensical, but ever so self-effacing, incantations of politicians makes Pee-wee Herman insightful cognoscente. Sycophants, courtesans or courtiers are in vogue.

People are crazy and times are strange. I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range. I used to care, but things have changed*

Bob Dylan has it right. As a people, a nation, a civilization, a species we are a caricature of what we could and should be. Absent a new true-blue vision we are bounded by quicksand. Sustainability merely a vision proxy awaiting divine intervention or an AI life-preserver.

It is not that what we have is inherently bad, just dangerous. We know the price of everything, but the value of nothing. We see the trees, but not the forest. Everything is relative. Tomorrow never comes. We wait for Godot and the last train to Clarksville.

While waiting we gnaw on old bones. Yet, with the marrow long since consumed, we merely sharpen our fangs. It is hard to fathom when you love Dali but long for da Vinci. The only thing real is surreal.

You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one**

Never has history been so pregnant with possibilities. Technologically, literally anything imaginable is possible. Rent a building, assemble a team, fund it and any technological vision will be manifested faster than Kennedy’s.

We are more than one but less than two. Time has long passed for the insolence of bigots, racists, misogynists, fascists, jingoists, monotheists and terrorists. Yet, no medieval institutional moat or fortress of our past affords sanctuary. To go forward with vision, forget messianic saviors.

Change is quickening. Space and time are collapsing. We have the tools and can make anything we lack. We have access to all civilizational knowledge and can find what is missing. What we need is the drive and passion to explore and a ship to navigate the shoals together.

Somewhere over the rainbow, Skies are blue.

It is fair to say, yeah, right! But, please, proffer an alternative. There is new knowledge to be gained, new rights to be won for the progress of all. Vision serves to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills. It is rooted in the human spirit, not just the American dream.

It is not hard to make everyone smarter faster. (Full disclosure, this is what my company provides.) It is not hard to explore new institutional ways and means needed to go forward. It is not hard to find a shared vision together.

But drop the ball and evolution will anoint another. It is agnostic about us. It will continue forward. So it is our race to lose. To be or not to be what we want to be. While the sky is still blue it is getting dark.

    **Songwriter John Lennon © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group
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