On April 21st a few weeks before our departure to Washington, D.C. we had the good fortune to interview former Secretary of State, George Shultz at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. In addition to the privilege of meeting someone who has spent a great portion of his life in public service, we got a feel for the process of the interviews to come. Below are a few responses from the students.
In the “Power of the Ought” lecture you gave at Stanford, the idea of “the ought,” reminded me of Historian Barbara Tuchman’s assertion that it is essential for a society to have a positive goal or vision for itself. What do you think is the most important “ought” or vision that we should be holding for the nation today?”
The Commentary by Anneka Lettunich – Senior
I was pleased to be given this question because it is SO relevant to our world today. “Hope” has become the new fad in political and social thinking, but hope alone will not move a nation forward. Hope is the sustenance for humans to lean on when they have lost sight of a vision or goal for themselves. Hope is supposed to be temporary, a chance to catch our breath. When hope takes the place of our vision and goal, it makes future success seem untouchable and out of reach.
When Pandora opened Pandora’s Box, she released all the evils with one exception, “hope.” Evidently, in Greek culture, hope is considered just as dangerous as the rest of the world’s evils. This is because hope can take on two roles; persistent, personal action to propel a plan or idea– or a passive wish that gives a false feeling that time will bring us closer to out goal without any effort on our part. Furthermore, by definition a goal does not become a goal until an individual (or nation) activates a plan of action to achieve it.
George Shultz answered my question in a way that directly correlates to my ideas of a type of “hope-dependency” our culture has developed. He said that his vision for the future of America is that the mentality of Americans should be less derived from hope and more moved on action. In his words, “the ‘is’ is approaching the ‘ought’.” The more we lean solely on hope, the more we push movement and action away. Hope can indeed be a guiding factor in our nation’s struggle to get back on its (financial) feet, but until we can replace our desires for the future with forward-moving plans of action, we will stay in place.