[NFBMO] The Continuity of Leadership: Twin Requirements

Daniel Garcia dangarcia3 at hotmail.com
Fri Mar 27 12:32:42 UTC 2020

The Continuity of Leadership: Twin Requirements
An Address by Marc Maurer, President
National Federation of the Blind
At the Banquet of the Annual Convention
Dallas, Texas, July 8, 1993

To read the entire speech you can click here:

Or if you prefer to listen to the MP3 version click here:

I would like to copy the first few paragraphs because the wisdom contained in them are timeless.

"There are two fundamental kinds of leadership that may be exercised by nations, by individuals, or by social action organizations. The first (and more common) is reactive. In times of crisis the political leader must find ways to bring positive results from circumstances which present no good alternative. The second (and perhaps the more important) is creative. The political leader must anticipate what might be caused to occur if an action is taken or avoided-even though there is no event that demands an immediate response.
Leadership is essential in a crisis if disaster is to be averted. But even more significant, leadership is vital when no crisis is imminent. In times of turmoil or stress it is perfectly clear that something must be done. When there is no impending calamity, there is also no obvious need for leadership-but without leadership there is only stagnation. If progress is to be realized, there must be leadership. Especially when the exigencies of circumstance do not demand it.

In 1970 the sixth largest corporation in the United States (Penn Central) declared bankruptcy. It did so because it owed hundreds of millions of dollars in short-term debt. Shortly before the filing with the bankruptcy court, leading financial planners contemplated the possible results. As soon as this mammoth corporation defaulted, all short-term debt obligations for all companies in America would become suspect. The short-term debt at that time amounted to over forty billion dollars. The default would almost certainly cause widespread financial panic. The companies that had loaned the hundreds of millions to the bankrupt could not get the money back, and they would not be able to meet their own financial needs. If they could not obtain immediate credit, many of these companies would, in their turn, be faced with ruin. Layoffs would be massive, and there would be no new jobs for those who had become unemployed.

The disaster did not occur because individuals at the Federal Reserve Bank anticipated the need for extraordinary amounts of money, and (within less than two days) created the mechanism to assure American bankers and capital managers that credit would be found to meet the ongoing demands of business despite the multi-million-dollar loss. Although a catastrophe of monumental proportions had been avoided, this remarkable feat of monetary management was not widely reported--even though the bankruptcy of Penn Central was.

The most important form of leadership is not reactive but creative. It examines conditions as they exist and imagines what may be possible if energy and resources can only be focused. It dreams not of solving the present crisis or avoiding anticipated tragedy. Instead, it seeks to explore new avenues of thought and to build social structures, human understanding, and technological applications that have never been tried.

The history books tell us that the American Revolution began in 1775 and that the Declaration of Independence inaugurated our nation on the fourth of July, 1776. The leadership which propelled the American Revolution is well-documented and dramatic. But if the focus of the historian is on the period of the revolution alone, an essential element in the reallocation of political and social balances is omitted. The leadership that occurred during the revolution is of the kind that reacts to dire circumstance. The Declaration of Independence lists the evils which the revolution was intended to correct. However, there is a theory which maintains that the most important form of leadership on this side of the Atlantic transpired before the first shot was fired and long before the Declaration was signed.

To be successful, the revolution had to occur within a society which believed that the old order was no longer tenable. The military strategists could synthesize and implement the alteration, but the underlying reality of the thought processes, at least in large measure, needed to be in place. Otherwise, the population on the North American continent would not have tolerated the revolution. The leadership which brought the citizens of the colonies to believe "That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES" occurred long before the march to Lexington and Concord in 1775. That leadership had already created in the minds of the American colonists the conviction that our country should be free and independent--that reliance on those governing other lands was no longer endurable--that an entirely innovative form of government should be adopted.

Although certain patterns of human behavior recur, the complex fabric of being is ever new. As we meet here tonight in the largest gathering of the blind that will assemble anywhere in the United States this year, the opportunities for leadership will be (and are) abundant. What will our reaction be to the challenges of today? But even more to the point, what can we create through focused energy and collective imagination for tomorrow?"


Daniel Garcia, Corresponding Secretary
National Federation of the Blind of Missouri
dangarcia3 at hotmail.com
(816) 621-0902
Live the life you want

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