Getting There!

June 19, 2014

I’ve got two major themes on my mind. First, and this will come as no surprise to regular readers, I am very taken with the quality of the material on the Internet. I think we’re living in a “renaissance” era, especially when it comes to matters public. The Internet and related platforms offer much that devalues us in many ways, but for those who seek intelligent writing and discussions about the matters of the day, my, my, but there’s much to be proud of! (I do hope my bit of a contribution adds to the mix, but I’m really talking about the pros here.)

Within this mix there are greats, near greats, and plenty of material that, like Chinese food from decades ago, nourishes me but, still, leaves me wanting more in an hour or so. (When did Chinese food go from “you’re hungry in an hour” to “you’re full up for days?” I’m pretty sure the switch occurred in the early 1970s, and relates to “Nixon goes to China.”) Alas, I digress … but there will be more on the Trickster and V-POTUS at the end of this piece.

The TED Radio Hour and TED Talks often fall into the “greats” category. And I heard an hour during the first weekend in June that totally captivated me. The link to Getting There is here! The lead up for the show was a quote from Henry Ford, reported by William Clay Ford, Jr. aka Bill Ford, Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company (and Henry Ford’s great-grandson). The quote? “If I asked people what they wanted when I developed the Model T, they would have told me, faster horses.”

Getting There is really the antithesis of faster horses. The five segments all focus on transportation issues, all from a “here’s where we’re headed, but maybe we’re already there, almost” perspective. The segments showcase people who are leaders for the future of transportation, not waiting around for followers to bless their actions. Take Bill Ford, for example. This man leads a major international auto company, yet he’s also a founder of Fontinalis Partners, a firm that focuses on technologies for improving mobility. Not a car guy who sees a future in the two-car family model.

I listened to this hour and came away with a thought I rarely have:  I wish I was younger, so I could see these cool things happen, fully and completely! People are doing amazing things with transportation, and in many other areas. Some will work, and some won’t. But people are out there, investing their time, talent, treasure, all in furtherance of a better, cleaner, more just world.

And my second theme? Before I go forward I need to offer a somewhat obscure reference.

Vice President Spiro Agnew was the 39th Vice President of the United States of America, serving with the afore-mentioned Richard Nixon. Vice President Agnew was the second Vice President to resign, and the first to do so as part of a plea agreement. (I also saw him at the Tucson Racquet and Swim Club, around 1971, in town for something and at the club to play doubles. I considered a protest sign, but I was younger then!)

William Safire, through Vice President Agnew, coined the phrase “nattering nabobs of negativism.” Clever and alliterative, and directed to those who opposed the Vietnam War and much of what Nixon Administration was doing, it aptly describes the crowd who, now, might be aligned with Nixon/Agnew, if they were still alive and in power. I’m talking about the people whose main goal seems to be blocking anything put forward by the people I mentioned earlier. The naysayers, who tell us why everything won’t work, and offer no ideas of their own.

I have been involved with many organizations, and an important lesson I learned early was “lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Right now we have a group who seem committed to nothing more than staying in the way, no matter what the issue might be. Truth be told—which, I think is now “tbt”—we’re on an unsustainable path, whether it’s about how hot we’ve made our planet, how we’ve polluted our oceans with plastic, how we’ve allowed for an economic model that has enabled the wealthy to leave all of us so far behind, etc. G-d bless those whose efforts will provide a way forward, and if the naysayers would follow or get out of the way, we’d get to the Promised Land much more quickly.

Note:  I don’t get overtly political often. Count this one in that column!


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