“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask rather what you can do for your country.” With those words, John F. Kennedy changed our country. He inspired people to accept responsibility for the nation’s situation, while at the same time asking people to take control over their own destinies. JFK challenged Americans to reflect on what they believed in, and to make a difference by looking within and asking, “What can I do?” “How can I contribute?” Millions heard the call, and millions in every segment of society acted to give birth to a new national consciousness.
President Kennedy’s vision of personal empowerment was just one of many examples of politicians and average citizens who created a powerful vision and achieved profound results. President Lincoln’s vision honored the Declaration of Independence by reminding us that “all men are created equal” before emancipating African Americans from slavery. Susan B. Anthony’s vision expanded that notion by declaring that “all men and women are created equal,” during the struggle to secure the vote for women.
What happened to visionary politics in our country? Why do politicians today stray from vision or omit vision altogether from their agendas? Why don’t they attempt to find the common bonds that unite rather than divide us? Is it a question of capability, or of convenience? Have we lost our ability to think as visionaries in politics, or has it become much more convenient to throw stones at those sitting across the aisle? If the latter is the case, we are in danger of becoming a stagnate nation – a nation where the laws of entropy will ultimately prevail, leaving us socially, economically and politically impotent on both a domestic and global scale.
In recent years we have seen the political Right manipulate the public using fear tactics. They insisted that the only way to deal with terrorism is to show the terrorists and the rest of the world who is stronger, who is militarily more sophisticated, and who can persevere. Immediately following the horrific 9/11 attacks, the United States had the goodwill of the entire world on its side. We had an opportunity to focus the energy of people around the globe against violence in a drive for global peace. We lost the opportunity to create a new dream and direction for global peace when we invaded Iraq. We chose the irrational politics of reaction and revenge. In just five years, we have managed to isolate ourselves, losing credibility and trust around the world. Politicians know very well that the quickest way to unite a country and gain power is to find a common enemy. We saw that scenario played out with communist nations like Russia during the Cold War and with Germany during Hitler’s reign. We still haven’t learned the longer-term lessons that history offers to those who are willing to be enlightened. Policies of dominance and control lead to destruction and violence, and these policies are clearly not sustainable.
In the recent congressional elections, there was a glimmer of hope – a chance to institute a new national vision that would eventually lead to the healing of our country. Instead, the political Left deployed a “strategy” based on criticism and condemnation, creating more fear, uncertainly, and doubt. For years we have heard the Democrats expressing what they are against, while missing the opportunity to inform Americans what they are actually for.
While this tactic worked in winning both the House and Senate in 2006, it is highly unlikely that it can last. We shall see how many politicians can liberate themselves from the past or resist letting negativity and partisanship dominate their message. America is still confused, and will eventually demand to know where our country is heading. Americans are growing tired of being manipulated by fear, and will within time begin to demand that politicians reveal their visions with a clear direction for the next decade or two. More people are aware that the current vision of global domination and control over all energy resources is creating an unstable world rather than a secure one. They will insist on the revelation of a vision that will restore hope and faith, healing the years of damaging fear and manipulation, allowing them to be optimistic about the future and their own lives.
What Difference Can a Vision Make?