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Lead, Follow or Get Out Of The Way

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I continue to hear debate on whether the last election was a progressive mandate or merely a dissatisfaction with the current administration's policies. While there has been some increase in bipartisan cooperation, there also continues to be much of the same partisan bickering. If there is a progressive mandate, it seems some have yet to get the message.

There are many ways of differentiating progressive vs. conservative. In one respect, conservativism is an attempt to hold on, to conserve what has already been gained as well as a distaste for change. Progressivism, on the other hand, signifies moving forward. It signifies growth. So I have been thinking about just what growth entails. I believe there are two important characteristics to growth. First is a constant search for the facts and ideas that help one to better understand their beliefs; to further those beliefs. Second, to understand the opposition to those beliefs. If, in this endeavor, one's beliefs are challenged, and finds that the previous beliefs were founded on false pretenses or ideas, and one concludes that in fact, the opposition is correct, then growth may also include change, though this need not be the case. The point is not to grow so that you may challenge the belief of others, nor to convert others to your manner of thinking, but to challenge yourself and become more competent and firm in those beliefs to which you wholeheartedly hold to be true. Without growth all that remains is stagnation, or as in wishing for the "good old days", regression.

When one is asked, he should be able to articulate why he beliefs in thus and such, and if unable to do so, may perhaps, be laboring under a false assumption that what he beliefs is so. Upon further study, he may indeed find himself to be believing in a false creed and thus change his opinion; but to attempt to force this change on others is nothing more than a spiteful show of prejudice. One is not born with this knowledge, and only slowly acquires beliefs, often without research. Only by mindfully searching out substantiation for those beliefs can one confirm them to be true or false. In all things, individually, one is predisposed to feel one way or another, and not likely to be dissuaded from that position. It is these that need confirmation, for if one is not wholly comfortable with their beliefs, or remains uncertain or unable to define or defend them, one must search out the reasons for this discrepancy. If in seeking help one requests that another espouse their viewpoint, then so be it, but without this request, holding one's tongue is in order, for nothing good can come of confrontation without consent. This is not to say there is not a place for a healthy debate, for there is indeed, but far too often this occurs in the form of political proselytization rather than as an exchange of ideas. It must be from these confirmed ideas that progress springs, not merely from hanging one's hat on partisanship.

Let us not push an ideology who's time has not yet come nor hold fast to one who's time has past, for a generation must be born and raised for a change of this magnitude to occur. First that new generation must reclaim what was lost by the one previous; only then may a new ideology take hold, only after the purge of antiquated, perverted, and self-serving programs and legislation has been tossed aside. Only then can a new progressive movement flourish. A new generation breeds nonconformity, which the old detest and fear, but it is that refusal to comply with the "old ways" that allows, indeed demands, moving forward. It is not what we want or hold dear that will manifest, for we have lass claim to lay than the youth with their entire lifetimes ahead of them. It is they that must, and ultimately will, set the agenda that we must follow. The old saying "lead, follow, or get out of the way" is the battle cry of the youth, but they will take the lead. It is we who must follow for if we try to impose our ideology on them, nothing but revolt will occur, and those who stand in the way will be crushed. They have the most to gain, or lose, by virtue of their years.

BUT...where, from amongst our youth, will this leadership come? As stated above, I have been pondering this idea of growth, but as of yet, I don't have the answer to this last question. It is all too easy to see the generation now emerging from their teens as dumbed down and tuned out, yet I know this may not be the case...I certainly hope not. It's their world and they are the ones that need to take this bull by the horns.
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Mark Petersen has a B. A. in Speech Communications/Public Address & Rhetoric and is currently a Master of Humanities candidate in the Interdisciplinary Studies Department of Philosophy at the University of Colorado at Denver. His writing and (more...)
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