VISIONARY LEADERS MAIN
Featured in Soul Light #27
Uncommon Sense: America's Mission Statement
Buried in our national literature, usually glossed over,
taken-for-granted, casually crossed off as so much hyperbole is our
national mission statement. Yes, we have a clear, concise mission
statement that identifies six specific goals (agendas) for our
country...to which we are called to manifest. In fact it is the
active participation in achieving our six goals that makes us Americans.
And to the degree that we are participating in achieving these goals, we
can proudly call ourselves, Americans.
hope that by now, I have piqued your interest and you’re asking, “Okay
already, what is the mission?” If this occurs to you, take a second
to notice whether or not you even know what it is. No blame.
Neither do most of the rest of the many people I’ve asked. It’s a
question of positioning. When you see what our mission is, when you
hear it spoken, when you feel the energy of the mission as our shared
purpose as Americans, you will appreciate that it is the great dark horse
of our collective American Soul.
what is it already?”
“We, the People of
the United States,
in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic
tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare
and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity
to form a more perfect union
insure domestic tranquility
provide for the common defense
promote the general welfare
secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity
That’s it, our mission statement… eloquently and explicitly stated in the
Preamble to the United States Constitution. By and large, we have
focused on what has become the political and governing vehicle for the
fulfillment of that mission, the Constitution, and left it to politicians
and lawyers and those who can most influence them to be responsible for
care-taking the mission. And as most would agree, it is money that
does the controlling, the voting and the influencing and will continue to
do so until enough Americans develop the will to do things differently.
would it take to awaken and harness that Will. Well, let’s start
with the will to what. And that “what” is a mission. Seems
like the obvious place to begin to me.
But what can we as a
citizenry do about it? That is the central point of this essay.
We must realize that
while the constitution provides the skeleton and structure of our
government, the responsibility for the mission goes far beyond what can be
achieved through legal and political manipulations. The responsibility,
and just as importantly, the opportunity to fulfill that mission still
rest in the hands and hearts of every American citizen.
This extraordinary mission deserves to
be resurrected from cliché, extracted from the cobwebs of neglect,
retrieved from the attic of indifference, wrestled from the clutches of
power brokers, brought to our attention, and actively embraced as our
Then we must
consider what it would take to for each of us to actively commit to that
vision and do whatever we can to understand it, flesh it out, and
ultimately take all necessary steps to fulfill that mission. We must
learn to see how our self-interest and the achievement of our mission are
inextricably bound—as one goes, so goes the other. There is no
separation. And we must learn how to do this together.
identifies six very explicit goals that our founding Parents set out to
achieve through the establishment of our country and its government
through the constitution. These goals need to be re-framed in order to
activate and empower us. Given a chance, they have the power to call forth
our best nature and to provide a unifying direction so that we can
progress and heal the many divisions in our American Community and more
effectively deal with the variety of problems that plague us.
I believe that once
we recognize we have a mission, and clearly demonstrate what each of us
can actually do about it, we will be able to enlist Americans of all walks
of life and all ages in this noble undertaking. And as we do, we make it
possible for ourselves and our posterity to reap the harvest …to
unearth the bounty of blessing that waits within the treasure chest that
is the heart of the United States, the American Spirit.
When people see that
regardless of the circumstances of their lives, they can actually make a
contribution, they will be charged with inspiration and passion.
Our mission provides
a springboard for all those disillusioned, latent idealists among us to
dive in and take responsibility for our collective welfare. It can
counteract the feelings of impotence that undergird our cynicism,
undermine our optimism, delimit our motivation and that enslaves our will.
The commitment to our mission can fuel the determination it takes to make
our American society work. And it inspires the creativity that is required
to make an America that exists for the good of all, in short, to promote
the general welfare with a passionate resolve.
WHAT’S IN THE WAY?
Along with unbridled
self-interest, I believe the feelings of individual impotence combined
with cynicism and an extreme degree of disconnection (from ourselves, each
other, our own bodies and environment and the essential nature and
dynamics of life) are the greatest obstacles to progress and progress is,
as I am suggesting for America is the realization of our shared mission—a
more perfect union….
Many people do care
about where we are headed and about the serious problems that plague and
frustrate us, but feel impotent to do anything about it. I believe
that they certainly would care about our mission… if they recognized it
as such. Many people feel impotent in the face of the overwhelming
forces that seem to control our lives and as a result, close off into
their own private universe of family, job, friends, self-preservation and
self-gratification… largely missing the opportunity to make a real
difference to our community and to realize the personal sense of
empowerment and pride that comes about when one realizes that he or she
has something important to contribute, and just as importantly, that it
will actually make a positive and palpable difference.
I think this
perspective is especially relevant to young adults, who, hopefully,
haven’t been completely overcome by cynicism and who still, if only
vaguely, harbor some desire to make a difference with their lives and
our mission isn’t limited to young or old or to either conservatives or
liberals or even politicians and their supporters …or any other way you
can cut up the demographics of Americana. No, all you have to is be an
American and recognize the value of achieving that mission for it to be
relevant to you and to empower your life as a citizen. And when we can see
the connection between achieving these ideals and the many challenges we
face, that can empower us.
It isn’t so much that the mission statement is not being attended to, but
rather that it isn’t being recognized as our purpose and thus we miss out
on the incredible motivating force that comes with having a clear,
inspiring shared intention.
(Just look at what we
were able to accomplish in World War II when our resources were galvanized
around the mission of defeating the Axis Powers, the sacrifices people
made and the incredible amount of resolve that determined our capacity to
emerge victorious. But so far, it seems that that level of
commitment only shows up when we are faced with “an enemy” something that
needs to be stopped or overcome? Is that what it takes to motivate us?
Do we have to be so confronted by threat that we can only rise up when we
are in resistance or can we ignite our will to bring something positive
about with determination, foresight and strategic design?
Now mind you, there
will be all sorts of interpretations of that mission and ways of
understanding it and other numerous ideas of how we might fulfill it, but
that’s good, that’s what makes American great—the rich mix of our
diversity…that we can debate over how to fulfill our mission and take
advantage of a myriad of perspectives that can only enrich the debate and
the resultant creative process that we must be engaged in to bring our
mission to fruition.
But if there is no
overriding direction that we can all agree to, then our differences serve
only to separate us which causes endless rancor, disrespect and lack of
cooperation, and oh, yes, endless yelling matches, name calling and the
putting down of our opponents on TV talk shows and call-in radio and
through the media, which further exacerbates our divisiveness and does
little to empower our unity. After all, the word, “United” sits
firmly as the very first world in the very name of our republic. How
many other countries are named after a process, a way of going about being
together as a nation?
What I am suggesting
here is that we simply recognize that we have this mission and then, for
each of us look into our own hearts, find out how much we care and commit
some portion of our energy to fulfilling that mission—that we take some
responsibility for our collective purpose. By doing this, we will begin to
see how, by our working to fulfill our shared mission, we end up
inevitably fulfilling ourselves and our individual life purpose, and
especially to see how we can make it possible for our children, our grand
children and their children to live in a better America and as a result, a
informing Americans that we have a mission, we can begin to, at least,
have a conversation and as a consequence of that, hopefully, to start
mobilizing our talents, energy and resources to take more conscious steps
to bring that mission closer to actualization.
essay, I will present some strategies to achieve our vision, some ways to
get started and even how we might more passionately and effectively
enhance whatever we are already doing to fulfill that mission, but I
believe that if the 280 million of us knew that we have a mission and put
our collective imaginations together, we could make an extraordinary
difference in achieving that mission.
Or, to be more realistic, if 10% of us
recognized the potential of our mission and chose to actively participate
and committed the next 50 years to it…you wouldn’t recognize our country
by 2055. A, it will still exist and with greater power and vision because
it will be built on the power of cooperation and B, it will be a far
grander and healthy society (see book, “No Contest.”)
Or to be more
practical…if…say 5% of us commit 5% of our time to this mission in
concrete ways, then we can take major strides toward our goals and see
significant accomplishments in a relatively short period of time…in just a
few generations. (yes, we have to think in terms of generations to
come—just as our founding Parents did—they didn’t conceive of and design
the Constitution to meet quarterly profits.)
I said before, it’s not that people aren’t working on this mission.
Many people are, in their own way, with passion and intelligence,
but the problem is that few people recognize it as our mission. And
all too often they limit their efforts to that part of our mission that
most relates to their own issues.
Or people do not
participate and leave it to the government, the political process, which
they only marginally participate in, and inevitably leave it up to well
financed special interests to influence our direction and to decide our
To fuel our passion
for the mission and to see it more quickly expedited, we cannot limit our
efforts to the political process. First, it must become intensely
personal. We must as individuals find a way to relate to it and see
its relevance to our lives, to what we want and need, to what bothers and
frustrates us and at least as important, as a way of satisfying an even
deeper need to find meaning for our lives.
fulfilling our purpose is not limited to politics or economics though
those realms seem to be primary arenas in which we engage whatever is
relevant to our mission. Fundamentally, it is about life. (Remember,
the Declaration of Independence starts with “the pursuit of life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”) In order to take on the kind of
ardor required to actualize that mission, we must see how our own best
interests are served by a commitment to our mission, that the achievement
of our heartfelt desires are dramatically realized in proportion to the
collective achievement of our shared purpose. We must realize that
fundamentally there is no real separation between the part and the whole.
As one goes, so goes the other and that any effort on behalf of the whole
will affect the part.
to challenge people, including myself, to embrace the mission, to enter
into discussion and debate about it, and to see how creative we can be in
implementing the strategies that it will take to fulfill the mission. To
quit bickering (no matter how well conflict sells) and start using our
creative imagination to heal our lives. My goal with this essay is to move
our American mission way up on the priority list of what engages our
interest and passion, even to the point that we will not only get
involved, but are willing to sacrifice some of our personal agendas for
the sake of this all important mission—the Mission of the United States of
Errol Strider can be contacted at
hip was founded by
Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson in 1996 as a non-denominational
educational center to help people develop t