I started this week talking about the serious weaknesses that are inflicting our house of credit card, debt-based economic system. I’m still watching that story unfold and will have more on it over the next few days.
Yesterday, I took time to watch the speech Presidential candidate Barack Obama delivered in Philadelphia. “A More Perfect Union,” addressed the question of race relations in America directly, in a thoughtful and ultimately very useful way. As a nation we need to hear more of this kind of talk. We are, truly, “many out of one” and we need to be reminded of this more often.
Here is the speech. I urge you to watch it, think about it, talk about it with the people you live with, work with and care about.
There is a deeper message here and it has to do with aging and the possibility of a savage and ongoing intergenerational conflict. White versus Black versus White versus Black? Yes, the history is there for all who care to read it. There is also the growing possibility of another cultural fracture, Old versus Young versus Old versus Young. Candidate Obama makes the point that powerful interests have worked relentlessly to enlarge and deepen the racial divide — all in pursuit of their own narrow self-interests.
When I was writing about the collapse of the Bear Stearns investment house, I made the point that the Bush Administration had argued strenuously in favor of “privatizing” Social Security and placing the financial security of America’s elders into the hands of men like Bear Stearns’ Jimmy Cayne.
In support of its drive to privatize Social Security, the Administration did its best to open a rift between young and old. It sought to enlarge our differences and make us alien to each other. This strategy is at the root of so many of our social problems and it is what makes those problems seem so intractable.
Narrowing the gap, bringing Black and White together, Young and Old and Men and Women together is the essence of true leadership and true leadership is the life blood of any healthy human community.
The differences are real but we do not have to let others use them to divide us and deny us a better future.