For years I have been challenging myself, other leaders, and elected officials to offer compelling visions of the future that are inclusive, just, and propel all people and communities toward flourishing. Without hope (tempered by realism), we are left with either anarchy leading to new forms of totalitarianism, or timeworn experiments that have proven fruitless.
Here are some questions for those who care about our global and local future:
- Is your vision inclusive of all classes and cultures? Or are you preying on envy and resentment and fomenting conflict to secure power over others?
- Is your vision doable and can it be paid for without stifling creativity and opportunity? Are your ideas incrementally achievable or grandiose talking points rooted in scare tactics?
- Does your vision continue enshrining freedom of conscience, religion, speech, and peaceable assembly, or are you placing whole groups outside the pale because they are not enlightened enough?
- Does your vision include both changed hearts and just systems? Good intentions are helpful, but without access, equity, and opportunity, they will ring hollow.
- Does your vision allow for progress without instant perfection and proximate justice on the way to full liberation? Can you find ways for principled compromise?
- Does your vision build on the lessons of history so that old mistakes are not repeated, and wisdom can be applied afresh to new challenges? Or are you trapped in the recent fallacy that dismisses the insights of previous generations?
- Does your vision reflect the need for people of character as well as new public policies?
A fresh vision of “there” will require imagination, integrity, intentional action, and a love for continual learning and refinement. We will never build a perfect world, but we can make the present one better.