Leadership, John F. Kennedy-style

Kennedy’s civil rights address to the nation, June 11, 1963

(Time indicators follow quotes.)

John F. Kennedy began this address to the nation on June 11, 1963, by describing what had just occurred at the University of Alabama.  Pursuant to court order, and over the objections and body barricade of Alabama Governor George Wallace, two young people of color had just been admitted as students under the watchful eye of the Alabama National Guard.  Enrollment was peaceful, “due in good measure to the conduct of the students of the University of Alabama, who met their responsibilities in a constructive way.”  Kennedy continues with the speech of a lifetime.  In his too-short life, he gave more than one such.

….Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. 1:18  When Americans are sent to Vietnam or West Berlin, we do not ask for whites only.  It ought to be possible, therefore, for American students of any color to attend any public institution they select, without having to be backed up by troops. 1:38  It ought to be possible for American consumers of any color to receive equal service in places of public accommodation … without being forced to resort to demonstrations in the street. 1:57  And it ought to be possible for American citizens of any color to register, and to vote, in a free election, without interference or fear of reprisal. 2:08

It ought to be possible, in short, for every American to enjoy the privileges of being American, without regard to his race or his color. 2:19  In short, every American ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated. 2:28

But this is not the case.  [Kennedy then details some of the economic, social, and physical realities and effects of discrimination.]  [Discrimination] is not a sectional issue….[S]egregation and discrimination exist in every city, in every state of the Union. 3:21….Nor is this a partisan issue.  In a time of domestic crisis, men of good will and generosity should be able to unite, regardless of party or politics.  This is not even a legal, a legislative issue alone. 3:45….[L]aw alone cannot make men see right. 3:57

We are confronted primarily with a moral issue.  It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution. 4:06

The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities.  Whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated. 4:19

….Who among us would be content with the counsels of patience and delay?  One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves.  Yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free.  They are not yet free from the bonds of injustice; they are not yet freed from social and economic oppression. 5:15

And this nation, for all its hopes, and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free. 5:24

….Now the time has come for this nation to fulfill its promise. 5:58 ….Where legal remedies are not at hand, redress is sought in the streets…. We face therefore a moral crisis as a country and a people. 6:35 ….[I]t cannot be met by repressive police action. 6:39….It cannot be quieted by token moves, or talk. 6:47

It is a time to act … in the Congress, in your state and local legislative body, and above all, in all of our daily lives. 6:58

It is not enough to pin the blame on others, to say this is a problem of one section of the country or another, or deplore the facts that we face.  A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all. 7:18

Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence.  Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality. 7:30….[JFK discusses the legal and legislative mechanisms he is proposing for action by Congress.]

….Nationwide legislation is needed, if we are to move this problem from the streets to the courts. 9:27 ….But legislation, I repeat, cannot solve this problem alone.  It must be solved in the homes of every American, in every community across our country 10:46….[T]hese are matters which concern us all — not merely presidents, or congressmen, or governors — but every citizen of the United States.  This is one country. 12:05

….Therefore, I am asking for your help in making it easier for us to move ahead and provide the kind of equality of treatment which we would want for ourselves. 12:39  [The African-American community has] the right to expect that the law will be fair, that the Constitution will be colorblind, as Justice Harlan said at the turn of the century. 13:09

This is what we are talking about.  And this is a matter which concerns this country and what it stands for.  And in meeting it, I ask the support of all of our citizens.
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As a young girl, I heard JFK give this speech live on television, and I knew then what leadership was.

Facing realities, coming together as one people to solve problems, without finger-pointing and blame, asking for help, summoning our best natures to adapt in ways which may be uncomfortable but are critically necessary  — this is leadership.  Long may it guide us.

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Leadership, Andrew Cuomo – style

Some recent quotes from New York governor Andrew Cuomo on combatting the coronavirus outbreak (among other things):

[In response to federal government statements and action]:

 No one is held harmless from reality.

 Being angry is a luxury.  We don’t have that luxury.  Let’s deal with the facts.

There’s a strength in the fact of “all of us”.

This is going to change us.  This is going to form a new generation, and it will transform who we are and how we think.

We have to do both public health and economic development.

Leadership is helping us see where we need to go, why we need to get there, and how we are going to make that happen.  Leadership calls upon the strengths of the community, as individuals and as a nation, as a member of the world family, to build something new together.  Something essential to our humanity.  Something requiring a bedrock vision of who we are and what we can be.  Something founded on heart, decency, compassion, energy, and unwavering commitment.  Leadership asks for our help and makes us want to give it freely.

Let’s start getting there!

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Nostalgic for Neanderthals

And speaking of evolution, I wax evermore nostalgic for Neanderthals.  Anthropologists confirm that Neanderthals buried their dead with tender care and were probably not the brutes we thought they were.  (Is it a human survival trait to think anyone different is a brute?)  Neanderthals also did not plague the planet with concrete or pollute beyond health our air and water.  Small-community interaction seems steadily more appealing, as well.

Hoping for good health for our world community!

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What’s Our IQ?

Intelligence

           Decades ago I read a definition of intelligence that surprised and befuddled me.  “Intelligence is the ability to adapt.”*  I couldn’t accept this definition.  Wasn’t intelligence the ability to acquire and use information?  As I aged and grew (possibly) wiser, I began to appreciate the definition’s Darwinian underpinnings.  Intelligence is, among other things, the willingness and ability to observe and learn; to think for oneself; to study the past and prepare for the future.  It’s about confronting and responding appropriately to the reality around us.

           We humans may be scoring low on the intelligence quotient. (SeeAre We Un-Evolving?”)

           The universe’s essential element is change.  All life encounters trials which threaten survival.  Do we embrace these as a species and thrive, or ignore them and stumble?  Addressing challenges — through biological transformation and/or behavioral modification —is what we call evolution.  Those species who don’t adapt (or don’t have the time to adapt) to meet the shifting characteristics of their surroundings will fail.  Adaptive intelligence increases the likelihood a species will endure for millennia.

           Humans face many challenges.  Let’s get on with the important business of evolving into a viable species.

*This quote, with the addition of to change after adapt, is sometimes attributed to Stephen Hawking.  But I read it many years before Hawking was famous or even old enough to be quoted.  Perhaps many others have written about intelligence this way.
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Wolf Sighting


Wolf Sighting

I cannot look away to find my camera
to fiddle with the focus
to frame the vision —

your face might disappear into the willow
whence it came
your markings beyond the skill
of human art or imagining

your stillness unexpected
not one’s idea of wolf
your serene stance speaks
of unfamiliarity — yet almost knowing

I cannot look away to save my life —
yet thankfully my life is safe
the myth mere fairy tale

The creature who studies me
sees straight into my heart.
The peace of wholeness floods me
the strength of connection frees me.

I stand before the gift
of unknowable mystery.

 

These and other wolf photographs — as well as stories and poems —
can be found in Wild Wolf Encounters, True Stories of Wolves in the Wild.
(My husband took the pictures.  I cannot look away.)
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Raw Power and the Rule of Law

Untempered Steel

Raw power
untempered by the steely underpinning
of decency’s structural support
destroys all before collapsing.

That is not who we are.

Fresh Breeze

Long may our
flag wave
in the peace,
the delicious fresh breeze
flowing from the rule of law

photo courtesy of Petr Kratochvil
under CCO public domain license
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Wolf Scat

Wolf Scat

When I see coyote scat,
I wonder —
Could it be wolf?

I answer myself:
not big enough
not black enough
not enough volume
not enough attitude.

Although coyotes have plenty of attitude.

If I have to debate the question,
the answer must be no, not wolf.

Because wolf scat is unmistakable.

Black, long, sinuous, shiny
voluminous, attitudinous
glorious.

You were here,
and I can see you are healthy.

It’s a good day.

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Wolf Track

Wolf Track

The record of your passing,
your presence,
canine imprint, enormous, spreading, clearly
written in wet earth
my eyes take it in —
scouring the ground like the nose
of a bloodhound as I inspect the evidence.

My brain is occupied —
analyzing —
not coyote — too big — too heavy
not dog — not even large dog —
the angles and spaces are different,
the toes, pads, curves contain
more breadth and depth
and — don’t waste your time — definitely not the demure and delicate fox.

Well before the busy brain settles
on its conclusion,
and in fact from first sight
the body knows instantly:

WOLF!

The effect is immediate —
I lose the power of speech
can only point and gurgle.
What’s left of me is transformed:
I am become wonder
powered by hope.

Wolf re-introduction may be on the Colorado ballot in 2020.
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Fall in the High Country

Summer in the Colorado mountains lasted precisely until the fall equinox.  Then a cool wind began to blow, heralding the new season’s arrival.  These pictures were taken that weekend.

Seasons change quickly at 9,000 feet.  Three weeks later, the leaves are mostly gone, the wind is more chill, and winter’s darker tones predominate.  Far be it from me to complain about winter.  I celebrate it now.  It’s our lifeline to planetary health.  Long and hard and moist may it reign.


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The Secret Code of Wildlife Managers

Crack the Code

In wildlife management’s secret code
camouflage words disguise the deed
mask the act
seek to fool with false cover:

kill becomes “cull”;
“harvest” hides the slaughter;
“remove” cloaks the crushing destruction;
“service” conceals an utter annihilation.Bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars
and foxes by the millions
pay the price on public land
pay with their lives for human
intolerance, fear, and greed
and a nightmare vision of mission

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