Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You...

The text below is from Bob Lefsetz and his Lefsetz Letter. I liked it so much, I had to cut and paste it here. How about you? Thumbs up or thumbs down?

by Bob Lefsetz

What impressed me most was not that we achieved revenge, or that we put a dent in terrorism, but that we executed the plan.

America used to be a can-do nation.  We rolled up our sleeves and got to work.  That’s been our history forever. Until recently.

Now people feel entitled to success.  They certainly don’t want to pay their dues, they’d rather watch the big screen and contemplate winning the lottery or starring in a reality TV show, which in their minds is equivalent.  The concept of working hard for not only personal fulfillment but the general good is history.

And in the political arena elected officials and pundits shrug and say we just can’t have what we want.  We can’t afford health care, we can’t afford to take care of the indigent, because we’re a poor nation under stress and someone’s got to sacrifice and it sure as hell ain’t me.

So we’ve got gridlock.  The big questions are not even pondered.  What about Wall Street?  What about jobs?  It’s like America’s been compartmentalized into four distinct subdivisions.  The rich.  The political.  The media.  And the poor.

And it’s a circle jerk amongst the top three.  They don’t really care about the poor.  The poor don’t vote.  So the rich pay the politicians to play to a media that’s ever more out of touch, because what’s really going on is online, but no one over forty is willing to embrace the future, certainly not if it costs them their job.

After Ted Turner merged his company with Time Warner his son famously asked about his job, working at a Turner division.  Ted said "You’re toast!"

But no one’s willing to be toast anymore.  Everybody wants insurance that their life won’t change.  Sure, you can screw kids out of Medicare, but not me!  People must buy CDs and physical books and while we’re at it, why don’t we look at the Amish, they seem to have it down right!

So it’s easy to be disillusioned.  Not so much that you can’t get ahead, but that the system is broken.

And then we get Osama.

It wasn’t Justin Bieber.  It wasn’t kids on video games.  It was a seasoned group of elite warriors with an average age of 38.  The media tells us to worship youth, is this true?

And then there’s the patience involved.  Not only to track the lead but to find out if Osama is really in the house. And to balance acting in due time without acting too late, without tipping off the wrong person and risking Osama’s evaporation into the ether.

And then there’s the planning.  And the execution.

It all comes down to the execution.  Anybody can have an idea, but can you bring it to fruition?

But what exactly is the plan?  Do you blow the compound to high hell or do you execute with surgical precision, which is much riskier.

And what if you accomplish your mission, then what?  We blew this in Iraq and blow it in the music business all the time.  Wow, the record’s a hit, NOW WHAT!

So they fly in under cover of night and they get Bin Laden and all the data and get the hell out of there before anybody knows what’s up, ultimately burying the body at sea within 24 hours.

Meanwhile, we see the President laughing at Seth Myers’s jokes and playing golf.  Talk about being a poker player.

Makes you believe in America again.  That we can accomplish our goals.  That we’re smart, not just beholden to money, that we get the right things done.

Where do we go from here?

Well, you can criticize Obama.

But that’s just like pooping on the Beatles or the Eagles or Kurt Cobain.  All are imperfect, but can you follow their path, can you have a dream and execute it too?

The Beatles put in their 10,000 hours and then tested limits the rest of us didn’t even know existed.

The Eagles wanted perfection, unlike Crosby, Stills & Nash, they wanted to be able to reproduce their records live.

Not only did Kurt Cobain have an amazing sense of melody, he believed in the punk ethos.  He never sold out. The music was too meaningful, too powerful, too precious to be handed to corporations.

But it really comes down to JFK.  Who so famously said:
"As not what your country can do for you –
 ask what you can do for your country."
I’m not saying the government can’t help you out, but I’m wondering why you can’t see you’re part of a society.  If you’re rich, you’re not unreachable, there can’t be a cop on the front lawn of every person with a seven figure income.  If you don’t take care of your brethren, you’re gonna find yourself like Bin Laden, shot down for your egregious activity.

Class warfare?  I can understand fighting if you’re hungry and broke and so many are.

But this is not about division, this is about unification.  The stain of Jimmy Carter’s failed rescue mission has finally been eradicated.

It’s like we’re back in the sixties once again.  Only this time, the possibilities come from technology, not music.

We’re building a better society.  We lost our way, but we can get back on track.

If we can finally get Osama, what else can we accomplish?

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