The Land of Hope and
Land of Hope and Glory,
Mother of the Free,
How shall we extol thee, we who
are born of thee?
Wider still and wider shall thy
bounds be set;
made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.
At the turn of the 20th
century this song became symbolic of Britains worldwide power
and its view that there was nothing that the nation could not
Watching the inauguration of
President Barack Obama and seeing the expressions of hope,
pride and new beginnings, the HR Doctor was carried back in
time to the sense of the spirit of the possible that was
present among our British cousins over 100 years
The new presidents campaign
ignited a renewed spirit in much of America a spirit that
much has already been overcome and that the remaining work can
be done by people of all backgrounds who are willing to focus
on the possible and on the accountable, rather than on the
cynical and the negative.
Of course, this new
administration has huge amounts of work to do on policies that
will invariably be controversial.
How do we create a more
civil society with less violence and more civic engagement,
more effective education, better healthcare, a healthier
planet, a stronger defense and an improved economic
situation? These are just a few of the menu items on the
White House plate.
The answers will not come
from thinking born of inertia, or looking at our history and
making an incorrect assumption that taking no action will
somehow inherently solve the dilemmas we face today.
All leaders need to practice
the thinking of the possible rather than concentrating on
what was or what currently is. President Obama was
correct in his Inaugural Address in saying that the ground has
shifted under the steady state and Fortress America
cynics. They fear change and fear the adventure of
trying something new. Of course, there will be failures,
but with our children, ourselves and our
nation, we can learn more from the experiences of
failure than from the results of success.
A major lesson for each of
us is that if we regard failure as a gift as an opportunity
to learn and grow and chart a different path we are well
along on a journey to something much better than we left
behind. The inverse is, unfortunately, true as
well. If we sink into a morass of inertia, depression
and whining, or search for scapegoats when something doesnt
go our way, we are setting the stage for longer periods of
trauma and a bleaker future.
Perhaps this is also a
lesson for the media which has an
apparent lust to sell its product by a rather constant
emphasis of the terrible over the wonderful.
In the face of all that is
occurring in the changing world, it is time to extol the land
of hope and glory which for many generations has been America,
and to set its boundaries wider still and wider than ever
The boundaries are not those
of the physical or the geographic. They are not those of
empire in the traditional sense. They are the bounds of
imagination, the freedom to dream, the imperative to do better
and to explore.
Finally, they are the bounds
that are expanded only with a compelling sense of urgency to
get on with improving the lives of other people. One of
the last verses of the Edward Elgar and Arthur Benson
collaboration on the 1902 Land of Hope and Glory is
compelling. It speaks of the success of a nation that
looks to the future and smiles at fate. That is the
hope of the new administration. Along with it, that should be
the future emphasis of public service.