As the late Dr. W. Edwards Deming would say, we only need three things to fix the mess that we are in: Leadership, Leadership and Leadership.
When I arrived at the Mystic Starbucks this morning at 6 a.m., I had no idea what I was going to write about. A few minutes later, I read Maureen Dowd’s opinion column from yesterday’s New York Times. And while I was reading that piece, I received a message from my new friend on the Isle of Wight. Drawing inspiration from both of those inputs, my topic today is LEADERSHIP.
Writing about Donald Watson (1910-2005) co-founder of the Vegan Society and author of the first issue of Vegan News in 1944, Frances writes today:
Hello Jim, this was taken from the original vegan newsletter in 1944 by Donald Watson. He was a modest pioneer whose wisdom is echoed in your own campaign.
I have selected a brief excerpt from that first newsletter, one whose tone sounds a bit like our Declaration of Independence. He clearly points out the absurdity of our current (67 years ago) human “feeding model,” then challenges the civilized people of the mid-twentieth century to take action to get us back on the right path. From that very first quarterly newsletter (November 1944), Mr. Watson writes:
We can see quite plainly that our present civilisation is built on the exploitation of animals, just as past civilisations were built on the exploitation of slaves, and we believe the spiritual destiny of man is such that in time he will view with abhorrence the idea that men once fed on the products of animals’ bodies. Even though the scientific evidence may be lacking, we shrewdly suspect that the great impediment to man’s moral development may be that he is a parasite of lower forms of animal life. Investigation into the non-material (vibrational) properties of foods has yet barely begun, and it is not likely that the usual materialistic methods of research will be able to help much with it. But is it not possible that as a result of eliminating all animal vibrations from our diet we may discover the way not only to really healthy cell construction but also to a degree of intuition and psychic awareness unknown at present?
A common criticism is that the time is not yet ripe for our reform. Can time ever be ripe for any reform unless it is ripened by human determination? Did Wilberforce wait for the ‘ripening’ of time before he commenced his fight against slavery? Did Edwin Chadwick, Lord Shaftesbury, and Charles Kingsley wait for such a non-existent moment before trying to convince the great dead weight of public opinion that clean water and bathrooms would be an improvement? If they had declared their intention to poison everybody, the opposition they met could hardly have been greater. There is an obvious danger in leaving the fulfilment of our ideals to posterity, for posterity may not have our ideals.
With those insightful words fresh in your mind, let’s fast-forward sixty-seven years to what’s happening with the person who is currently occupying the most powerful office in the world — that of President of the United States. Maureen Dowd wrote yesterday about a resident of Alpha, IL, and her frustrations which are shared by a majority of our nation’s voters:
“Everyone was so hopeful with him, but Washington grabbed him and here we are. I just want him to stay strong and don’t take the guff. We want a president who is a leader, and I want him to be a little bit stronger.”Hers was a gentler message than the sign stuck on a post outside Alpha: “One Term President.”
But her three words summed it up: Washington grabbed him. Why did this man whose contempt for Congress is clear, who ran on the idea that he could transform a broken Washington, surrender to its conventional timetable and bureaucratic language?
My Main Point. What this country (indeed this world) needs right now is a one-term president who actually runs on that promise. Someone who spends ALL four years aggressively leveraging the unique strengths of the most powerful office in the world to bring about positive change. What we need is a true leader who will put 100% of his/her effort into getting something done — bringing to life a simple concept that can dramatically change the world.
What if someone like Ted Turner ran for office on such a platform? Our latest debt ceiling fiasco, our futile attempt at fixing health-care, and a host of other problems should make it perfectly clear — like a blinding flash of the obvious, that our current system is not going to provide the LEADERSHIP that we must have to get the human race back on the right track. No one seems to be happy with what we have today and it’s not the fault of President Barack Obama. Nor was it the fault of President George W. Bush or President Bill Clinton before him. It’s the system.
Okay, so you may not be a Ted Turner fan, but let me ask you this. How many people do you know that gave one billion dollars of their own money to the U.N. — with no apparent political agenda? Whether you like or dislike him is not the point; the point is that we need a LEADER who is not primarily concerned with getting re-elected in four years. In fact, we’d prefer a leader who does not wish to be re-elected.
We could do much worse than Ted Turner at the helm for the next four years. In case you’ve forgotten, the man knows a thing or two about vision, leadership and getting things done. He may be down to his last billion, but he still knows how to get things done. Wikipedia provides this summary.
Robert Edward “Ted” Turner III (born November 19, 1938) is an American media mogul and philanthropist. As a businessman, he is known as founder of the cable news network CNN, the first dedicated 24-hour cable newschannel. In addition, he founded WTBS, which pioneered the superstation concept in cable television. As a philanthropist, he is known for his $1 billion gift to support UN causes, which created the United Nations Foundation, a public charity to broaden support for the UN. Turner serves as Chairman of the United Nations Foundation board of directors.
Bottom Line. When it comes to our health, the cost of health care, the environment, the energy crisis, world hunger and the future of life on this planet as we know it — I am absolutely convinced that the single most important step that we humans can make is to simply return to the natural diet for our species — as quickly as we possibly can. If we depend on the normal snail pace of social change, it will take way too long. What we need is LEADERSHIP — and we need it NOW.
As for Ted, I actually met him long ago at the Atlanta airport, but I do not know him personally. However, I do know a dozen or so people who are quite close to him and was advised recently that he might possibly be receptive to listening to the message in our book. After listening, maybe some of it will resonate with him and maybe, just maybe, he will find an interesting challenge for himself to embrace. And we all know what he can do when he embraces a challenge. From the last paragraph of the Introduction, I wrote:
The primary objective of this book is to outline in simple, everyday terms the extent of the problems we face, how we got ourselves into trouble, and what each of us can do to make things better. Fortunately, despite the incredible complexity of our current dilemma, the solution is refreshingly simple.
All we have to do is educate ourselves, start making better choices about what we eat, and then share all that we have learned with everyone we care about. I am convinced that there has never been anything more important in the history of the world.
In closing, a note to Mr. Turner. Dear Ted, I was speaking earlier this week with Dr. T. Colin Campbell of Cornell. He and I would be interested in having a discussion with you about this crucial topic. I would be happy to arrange such a meeting and would also like to include Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (Cleveland Clinic) who is appearing tonight on your CNN with Dr. Gupta.
Can time ever be ripe for any reform unless it is ripened by human determination?
Click below for the another edition of the Ted Turner Story
LEADERSHIP. Grassroots revolution or one-term president?
Best regards, J. Morris Hicks
(See links below to the Vegan Society Newsletter and the Maureen Dowd piece mentioned earlier.)
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—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at HealthyEatingHealthyWorld.com
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The Original Vegan Newsletter from 1944 in pdf