There is an intense hunger for change that has projected Barrack Obama into the Presidency. I would like to outline a number of points that represent what I believe are the ingredients for real, substantial and meaningful change in the state of the Nation:
• The necessary first step that must precede any significant transformation whether within an individual or society is honest and thoughtful self-analysis. There is no failure that is amenable to correction, if the fault is not recognized. Honest self-appraisal is an attribute that can be learned. The skills required to better understand one’s own motivations and behavior can best be acquired through education. Unfortunately, formal education often reinforces erroneous ideas rather than helping to unravel personal or popular myths. Improving education is a vital link to a meaningful future for any human community.
• That old and hackneyed dispute between proponents of big government versus small government needs to be discarded. The abysmal failure of government in the past eight years that had its beginnings during the Reagan era has demonstrated the need for “smart” government. Government plays a critical role in the life of the nation; it serves or should serve at the behest of the people: not some of the people, but all the people. This requires open government and not government tailored along the lines of an imperial presidency. This requires a government that is guided by practical considerations, science, ethics and reason and not bounded by the constraints imposed by ideology whether from the left or the right or the dictates of any particular religious belief.
• Real progress towards a genuine open and free society requires leadership that embraces the real human diversity that is a wondrous and unique quality of the American experience. The nation can no longer afford a politics fueled by bigotry, mistrust, narrow interests and fear. The majority community can not demean or dehumanize any group(s) within society and then be surprised when that group(s) becomes indifferent to or rebels against the interests of everyone else. Behavior spawned by bigotry and discrimination is essentially counter-productive.
• Open government and the laws that is promulgates must be founded on ethical principles and grounded in reality. The ultimate test of any social paradigm is whether it stands up to the rigors and dictates of experience. Reality is, after all, the ultimate testing ground. What does not work should be subject to modification. Governance based solely on ideological principles is destined to failure, for ideology is rigid and unbending by its very nature and not amenable to modification.
• Science, technology and the methods that are representative of scientific enquiry must be an essential part of government policy and problem solving. Furthermore, a basic understanding of scientific principles should be an essential ingredient of public education. This is especially important given the increasing concern among those in the scientific community regarding the dangers posed by increasing environmental degradation and the prospects of accelerated global warming. The government has a legitimate and necessary role in directing resources towards dealing with this formidable issue and its many and serious ramifications.
• A truly free and open press is a vital counterweight to political and economic power. Freedom of speech and the press, when functioning properly, provides a means t o curb the abuses of power and the powerful. Members of the press need to abandon the narrow interests imposed by the powerful and fulfill their role in the culture with integrity and purpose.
• A viable and vital society requires a vibrant economy. An economy based on debt, unrestrained greed and not founded on real productivity can not sustain itself. There can be no economic progress without educated, skilled and adequately paid labor. The economy is so intimately tied to the quality of life of its citizens, that access to freely available and universal health care is an essential component. Health care provided by the private sector has shown itself to be grossly inadequate and exceedingly inefficient and needs to be supplanted. In addition, efficient and reliable productivity is not possible without an adequate and well-maintained infrastructure. Ensuring these aspects of the social order is an important role for government, for government is the true representative and agent of the legitimate interests of all the people.
• To transform the seemingly dismal future of human societies on the planet, it is imperative to truly embrace peace. Peace acquired through violent and deliberate aggression is no peace at all. War represents an abysmal failure to achieve national goals by any other means. The formulation of international policy based on the limiting idea of national supremacy and the furtherance of empire will ultimately bring grief and lead to unnecessary calamities of death and destruction. The pursuit of peace requires the willingness to embrace all humans as true equals to ourselves and not as a means to further selfish national aspirations. To live a life of peace is to transform and expand the idea of family. To live peacefully in the world is to decry and abandon any behavior that necessarily brings suffering to others. Without this transformative idea, human societies will continue to go through the same tiring cycles of death and destruction that has so plagued human history.
• Finally, it is essential for any successful society or nation to embrace art and unabashedly support the artist, for without art, the life of the community would seem far less inspiring. It is art that is the conduit through which a culture retains its sense of balance and sanity.