I am launching this blog in order to create a space where those concerned about the many challenges created by globalization can offer and read views of ways we can find solutions to these problems that are not currently being considered by policymakers. We want to propose, hear and explore "out of the box" ideas to solve these problems. These do not have to be in the form of a PhD thesis on a particular subject, but rather simple and clear ideas that have not been discussed or considered before. These bare bones ideas can then be fleshed out and brought to the attention of policy makers, leaders, statesmen and stateswomen.
Throughout my foreign service, NGO and defense industry experiences, I have often felt that new ideas are not readily accepted, let alone embraced. We suffer from a kind of herd or group think. Worse many decisions are based on a profound ignorance of political, social, cultural and economic realities, even if this information is available from subject matter experts or centers of excellence available to government decision-makers. The United States, especially has suffered historically from anti-intellectualism and isolationism and often behaves like Gulliver in the land of Liliput, a hobbled giant. Yet the realities of the world today often present us with totally unexpected events and crises that demonstrate we are not thinking deeply and far sightedly about the general direction of global affairs. This is evidenced by 9/11 and the emergence of violent extremist organizations, environmental warming and the energy crisis, and the current world financial crisis. However, we are also largely unprepared for positive new developments, such as the rise of a totally new national political leader named Barack Obama or the reversal of a foreign policy failure in Iraq through some rather simple policy changes combined with shifting realities on the ground.
I have many out of the box ideas myself and will present those in the future in this space, but my intention here is to set out the need for such a space. I have been a student of future studies since I took a graduate seminar on Futures at Columbia University in the late 1960s with Roger Hilsman. I am very interested in looking into the future and figuring out how to do it. Increasingly there are people and institutions who do this. Here, however, we will focus more on seeking solutions to ongoing and future global challenges than just predicting them.
The term vision has many meanings, both religious and secular. In general, however, like the word visionary, it calls out from us our subtle and inspired powers of creativity and understanding. I see Gandhi and Martin Luther King as visionaries, leaders who had vast visions of a better world. A visionist, is more of a professional thinker/operator, whether a generalist or a specialist, who can bring experience, knowledge and a sharply honed instinct into devising possible solutions to problems. Such solutions must be based on a very deep study of problems and a near total grasp of the elements that underpin a particular reality.
I do not think that great solutions to problems can be developed by single individuals, although leadership and individual inspiration are important. Good ideas need to be developed and improved through a collaborative group process. Trying to achieve that is also the intention of this blog.
I would very much welcome responses to this idea and suggestions as to how to best achieve it.
I look forward to hearing from you and communicating again with you.