Thursday, December 13, 2007

From dynamite to peace

on my drive in this morning, i heard Al Gore's scathing comments on America's role in deterring a global climate treaty. Gore was speaking at the UN Climate Change Conference. "My own country the United States is principally responsible for obstructing progress in Bali," Gore said. that's a cold - but true - bowl of chili. listening to the news story prompted me to pull Gore's Nobel Peace Prize speech and it sparked a couple thoughts.

obviously, the speech is powerful on an environmental level. but it also carries a strong call to action that is hard to ignore no matter what "purpose" you might be pursuing. call it inspiration for this thursday morning...but here are some statements that particularly resonated with me (see excerpted transcript here).

on doing good:
One hundred and nineteen years ago, a wealthy inventor read his own obituary, mistakenly published years before his death. Wrongly believing the inventor had just died, a newspaper printed a harsh judgment of his life’s work, unfairly labeling him “The Merchant of Death” because of his invention – dynamite. Shaken by this condemnation, the inventor made a fateful choice to serve the cause of peace.

Seven years later, Alfred Nobel created this prize and the others that bear his name.

on leadership:
However, despite a growing number of honorable exceptions, too many of the world’s leaders are still best described in the words Winston Churchill applied to those who ignored Adolf Hitler’s threat: “They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent.”
on opportunity
Seven years ago tomorrow, I read my own political obituary in a judgment that seemed to me harsh and mistaken – if not premature. But that unwelcome verdict also brought a precious if painful gift: an opportunity to search for fresh new ways to serve my purpose.
it goes without saying that i wish the tables had rotated in Gore's a way. i'm confident our world would be in a better place politically. however, what a profound statement of reinvention, hope and tenacity.

some questions floating in my head:

are you serving your purpose? are you given the opportunity? if not, why not?
are you leading change or "deciding only to be undecided?"
are you facing condemnation, failure or frustration with a solution?

we all face these questions in varying degrees. and i believe we all can see reflections of ourselves and those around us in the quotes above. at the end of the day, though, it's up to us, individually to make a choice.

powerful, inspiring words from the man who was once the next president of the United States.

check out the rest of the's a good'un.

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Anonymous ARB said...

Boldness can, of course, be a great thing. It has a dark side, however.

A relevant example: GWB probably really did think he was making a bold move toward a more stable and peaceful world when he invaded Iraq.

Boldness is great when you agree with the leader, or the leader is in some way objectively correct and right.

Taken from another way... Hugo Chavez is certainly bold, but there are drawbacks for others.

Now, how you balance the fear of that with the legit. proposition that stagnation is no good either is the tricky part.

But unfettered boldness can be problematic.

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! (in response to your series of questions...)

Also, remember that time we went to see Barack Obama speak? That was fun.

7:40 PM  

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