Where are the leaders?
Population, environmental destruction, poverty, water, food, genocide and energy are all crisis that the entire planet faces today. Where are the leaders that tell it like it is and show foresight into long-term solutions?
“What I have to say to you now about energy is simple and vitally important. This intolerable dependence on foreign oil threatens our economic independence and the very security of our nation. The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our nation. These are facts and we simply must face them.
“From now on, every new addition to our demand for energy will be met from our own production and our own conservation. The generation-long growth in our dependence on foreign oil will be stopped dead in its tracks right now and then reversed as we move through the 1980s.
“I will soon submit legislation to Congress calling for the creation of this nation’s first solar bank, which will help us achieve the crucial goal of 20 percent of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000.
“We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I’ve warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.”
Excerpts from the “Crisis of Confidence” speech, July 15, 1979, given by President Jimmy Carter.
Unfortunately we chose the path President Carter warned us about and didn’t follow his leadership. We chose the easier path even though easier rarely means better or correct. I believe President Carter was the last president to sit in the White House who sincerely looked through the lenses of the people and the future of our country. Hindsight is a funny thing because we can choose what to look at and what to ignore. President Carter was correct and Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush have all got it wrong.
In 1979 the White House used solar energy, but when President Carter left, his wisdom and foresight went, too.
In 1981 President Reagan had Carter’s solar taken off the White House and his aggressive energy policies taken off the agenda.
Our problem as a nation was lack of knowing who we were in the aftermath of the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, the escalation and continuation of the Vietnam War, and Watergate.
The trust and confidence in our government was extremely low and opened the window to the disastrous policies of our current corporatist conservative movement.
Let’s get back to what makes America great – hard work and sacrifice.
Ben Emery lives in Nevada City.
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