A Solar Impulse for Our Soul

by on July 30, 2019 · 0 comments

in California, Politics

© Solar Impulse

By Joni Halpern

Since 1896, Ohio voters have picked the winning candidate in all but two presidential elections – 1944 and 1960 – giving rise to the state’s renown as a “bellwether” to which candidates cannot afford to turn a deaf ear.  If Ohioans are going to be so influential, maybe we could help inform their future choices by sharing some concerns from the Golden State.

Dear Ohio,

Remember the days when every presidential candidate had to tell us how great we were?  Whenever they spoke to us, they had to tell us we were the greatest country in the world, we were the most powerful, we had the mightiest military, the biggest economy, we were the leader of the free world.  We demanded this. “American exceptionalism” is what they called it, and we couldn’t get enough of it.

Well, no more of that.

© Solar Impulse

Today we have wiped our hands of world leadership, slipped off the pedestal of our inflated self-image, and begun to talk about what’s really bothering us.

We don’t want to be leaders of the free world anymore. Leadership is hard. It’s thankless, too. Sure, people around the world celebrate your achievements, like they did when we helped win World War II and when we contributed mightily to the rebuilding of Europe.

They cheered us when we went to the moon. They sent their young people to our great universities. They sought the protection of our military. But there were so many critics, too. Loud ones who magnified our every mistake. Jealous ones who criticized our motives, even when we meant well.  Ambitious ones who maneuvered us into disadvantage.

But that is the price of leadership at any level.  Leadership at its best is an act of generosity, where one person or one group, one nation or one alliance, invests itself in such a compelling vision of what can be accomplished that others want to follow it.  But first, a leader has to have a vision. And we don’t have one anymore.

Remember when the Swiss aircraft, Solar Impulse, touched down in Dayton, Ohio, on March 21, 2016?  Remember how the little kids, the teens, the young adults and everyone who still possessed a heart that could be stirred felt lifted up by that accomplishment?  A sleek, silent plane, floating like a leaf on the air currents, traveling 30 miles an hour without any fuel but the sun’s energy, wafting down on the Dayton airfield like a message from the future.  Amazing.

That used to be us.

But not today. We are no longer in the leadership business.  We are too busy running each other down, judging each other’s words, ignoring each other’s accomplishments, babbling about big government and too many regulations, throwing tax dollars at the rich, and fighting over whose prenatal morality should be hardened into criminal law.

We don’t have time to invest in visions of beautiful planes that ignite our imaginations, or elegant new molecules that cure disease, or inspiring strategies to address poverty. We are in the muck, throwing big, sloppy handfuls of sewage at each other, wondering why we are not great anymore.

They have a saying somewhere around your neck of the woods, Dear Ohio.  “A man who toots his own horn usually ain’t worth a hoot.” Let’s face it.  Bragging will not make us exceptional anymore. We might have to accomplish something as a whole nation.  And that cannot happen if we are busy destroying one another.

If we want to make our country great again, we’re going to have to get out of the muck, clean ourselves up, and once again, stand by each other in order to accomplish something that makes a difference not just in our individual lives, but in other people’s lives.  We need a Solar Impulse to breathe some life into our tired American souls.

Joni Halpern is a Point Loma resident, an attorney for low-income families, a former contributor to the San Diego Free Press, and an award-winning journalist.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: