In his blog, Two Worlds, Gary Patton responds to Thomas L. Friedman’s advice to Pres. Obama to shape his campaign narrative around a “postive” view of America as the world’s “the launching pad…for more start-ups so more Americans can thrive in a world we invented.”
Patton’s view is a bit more guarded:
Unfortunately, I do not believe that a campaign built on the self-congratulatory observations made by Thomas Friedman is going to “animate” the American people in the right way. In fact, if America “invented” our modern world, we need to claim credit for its deeply dissatisfying aspects, as well as for some of the good things. I would like to see a “positive” and “visionary” campaign, which Friedman is arguing for, but that doesn’t mean more economic “startups,” based on a continued plundering of the natural environment in the pursuit of more consumption and production. Read more HERE.
I agree… But I wonder — with all the mistakes that we’ve made, and with the nation in its current state of economic stagnation, it’s going to be a huge challenge to cultivate and support the nerve and creativity that it takes to innovate–while at the same time maintaining some sense of humility. In the past (as Gray Brechin illustrated in his book, Imperial San Francisco), such nerve was often ignited and bolstered by egocentric hubris, a sense of entitlement, and manifest destiny.
Initally, I finished off that last paragraph with an appeal to “realism,” but a friend pointed out that, while realism works for planning, human motivation runs on imagination and vision. So, I’m hoping that–whatever vision emerges to spark innovation–those who carry out these grand ideas in practical terms will also have their memories intact, and a little common sense.