Yes We Can!
Last night I had the opportunity to catch up with a friend on the phone. While it was fantastic to reminisce about the past when I lived back where my friend lived, the topic of Obama came up and what our thoughts on the subject were. I have to give credit to both McCain and Obama for thinking they are up to the task of dealing with the world in this current state. I only half joked that the best qualification for being President this election would have been the leader who ran away most fervently. In my experiences in the workplace I've often observed that the best managers and leaders were those who inherited it reluctantly as opposed to those who pursued it with zeal. One of my favorite lines from the movies was from "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" where in the pursuit of the grail, the phrase "for who's glory do you pursue it, his or yours?"
Yesterday on NPR Morning Edition (11/11/08) there was a story on the impact of the economy on art auctions. Does art lose meaning when it becomes a trophy. Can the same be said about leadership? That said, I remarked that I thought that Obama was going to create a notion of shared experience in overcoming our troubles. His story has been repeatedly in the sense of the proverbial "we." And I feel that the messaging will be not one of belt tightening but of shared services that we have to protect our country not out of payment but out of duty. The success and failure will be casted in terms of ourselves, which can be brilliant or dangerous at the same time. Will notions of responsibility be defined to the environment not as a government function, but as a patriotic duty.
Here in Oakland, Van Jones says that our slogan for the new administration should be "Retrofit America" in this New York Times blog post. The notion being that we create a conservation corps for the new age. Such programs are focused at youth, creating a vehicle for national service.
In the past few years, the emphasis on patriotism has been on sloganeering, magnetic ribbons on cars and flag pins on lapels. Those actions are largely symbolic, but an effort to act toward independence from foreign oil through conservation, actually leads to independence in other things. So the retrofit of America is not just on what we put in our gas tanks, but maybe our notions of duty.
Looking over this post, I realize the linkage of our duties and economy are weak. But what I'm saying is that our environment is tied to how we buy, and what we buy. And the we is there, since an individual is not an economy, we all are.