Posted by Scott White, BizCom President
The tragedies across the nation over the past month, including right here in our own back yard, have highlighted a number of issues facing our nation, not the least of which is a clear inability among our leaders to communicate a global vision and message of hope for the American citizen.
Even the news organizations, which played a major role in bringing the country together and driving much needed change just a few decades ago, have devolved to the point that they now celebrate style over substance. Celebrity has replaced significance both among the members of the media themselves and their decisions on news value. The result is that shrillness has replaced meaningful discourse.
And the emergence of social media has now provided a tool to magnify that shrillness.
While I am not a big fan of social media, I certainly recognize its value for families, friends and like-minded communities as a way to stay connected (I live that in my household on a daily basis). What makes social media such a strong tool for communications with like-minded groups, however, is also its weakness as a mass communications tool.
The noise on social media in light of the recent tragedies was deafening as extremes on both sides unleashed their venom among their followers, who then magnified the noise. If you were looking for objective news or opinions — if you were looking for serious thought leadership — social media was not the place to go.
Unfortunately, the presidential candidates and other “opinion makers” weren’t much better, as their carefully crafted statements were obviously designed to cater to individual constituents rather than the nation as a whole.
What is needed from our leadership, of course, is vision and an ability to communicate that vision on a global scale that resonates with the nation as a whole. What is needed are new messages of hope and unity, not the tired agendas and cliched speaking points of yesterday.
It’s easy to be cynical and pessimistic. I hear and read repeatedly that there is no hope for change and that the only thing that can be done is go about our lives as we wait for the next time we have to hashtag “pray for (insert city here)”.
But there is reason for hope.
Since our founding, it seems that when the nation has needed it the most true leadership has emerged with the strength and courage to ignore the extremes and drive positive change. It often starts with people like you and me at the local level, in the schools, the churches, the synagogues, the mosques, the community centers and even the streets, until it gathers enough steam to take on a life of its own. Leaders eventually emerge who can articulate and communicate a clear vision for a better world in a way that resonates across all races, religions and cultures.
Sadly, as we have learned in the past and are learning again, it’s never a fast — or painless — process.