Imagination, Optimism, and Tolerance


The importance of having bold and imaginative people in leadership positions is defined, not by the lowest common denominator, but by the inspirational power to achieve.

Continuing along the “1969” theme ……

“Tolerance,” explained Mrs. Hartsfield, “Means you don’t kill someone just because they believe differently than you.” She was speaking specifically about the news of the day to her 9th Grade Social Studies class, of which I was but one of thirty youngsters who had the privilege of receiving an excellent public education from an excellent public school teacher.

The daily discussions of current events were lively enough to hold at bay the distractions of Spring, which usually seemed to explode around the third week of March, and although expected, always seemed to catch us by surprise. The discussion of “tolerance” came on the heels of renewed animus in Ulster, the usual suspects wearing a religious facade. I could not comprehend how the two could have deep hatred for each other, my own life experience with Catholics limited to the family living across the street, Jimmy, the youngest, my best friend. That relationship went much deeper than mere tolerance, and was so natural that the thought of seeming enmity between us was limited to those competitive occasions involving sports, and later, cars, and girlfriends. Jimmy, as I recall, was the first to recognize the immutable correlation between the serving of turnip greens at the school cafeteria immediately following grass-cutting day.

A year or so later, my big brother would give me a book called Future Shock which I enjoyed much less than the hours spent examining his secret stash of rock albums, reading the sleeves, the production notes, learning the musicians’ names, and spending hours memorizing the words to the songs. I think, if pressed, I could still do the whole album-side version of “Alice’s Restaurant Massacre, with full orchestration, and four-part harmony …” I don’t think even Toffler realized how right he was in Future Shock. Change, and the accelerating rate of change has exploded on the scene, and caught us unprepared to manage our expectations.

If shock and alarm imply fear, then that’s where Toffler might have it wrong, I think. Technology changes, knowledge increases, but people are still people, all knowing the basic differences between right and wrong. And, although Ms. Hollman would tell me some years later in Sociology class that making this conclusion was “imposing a value judgment on others,” I can’t help but think that wondering about the future, and believing in the fundamental decency of people go hand in hand. That is less a limitation, and more a jumping off point, so to speak. A natural yearning to live and let live is the essence of tolerance.

The pace and the scope of expansionist technology increases with each new discovery, and one’s ability to adapt and utilize are limited only by imagination. I saw a commercial recently and blogged about it, “Web 3.0 is closer than you think.” In fact, I think web 3.0, 4.0, and 5.0 will flow seamlessly into each other until the day when they are no longer differentiated by generational markers. As technological change becomes accepted and intertwined in the way we communicate and conduct our daily lives, the importance of having bold and imaginative people in leadership positions is defined, not by the lowest common denominator, but by the inspirational power to achieve.

Imagination, optimism, and tolerance are the reasons that I am politically conservative.

They are the reasons that I blog.

I believe they are also, the reasons that this unique American experiment will thrive.

original post 7/18/09

2 Responses

  1. Good ole Jimmy 🙂 ! Your best friend, my first crush 😉 . Well written and thought-provoking blog, dear brother. I’ll have to check out “Future Shock”.

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