Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.John F. Kennedy
The above quote and title of this post is from a speech that John F. Kennedy, our 35th President never delivered.
“He was scheduled to deliver a speech in Dallas on November 22, 1963. He never spoke these words. He was assassinated on his way to the event and died before he spoke these words.”
When I saw this speech, I grabbed a fresh cup of coffee and sat down to read it. It was the message I wanted to deliver to you. John F. Kennedy, of course, says it better than I do.
Here are a few gems from the speech. The entire speech can be found here.
“It is fitting that these two symbols of Dallas progress (the Dallas Citizens Council, joined by the members of the Dallas Assembly) are united in the sponsorship of this meeting. For they represent the best qualities, I am told, of leadership and learning in this city–and leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. The advancement of learning depends on community leadership for financial and political support and the products of that learning, in turn, are essential to the leadership’s hopes for continued progress and prosperity…”
“…This link between leadership and learning is not only essential at the community level. It is even more indispensable in world affairs. Ignorance and misinformation can handicap the progress of a city or a company, but they can, if allowed to prevail in foreign policy, handicap this country’s security. In a world of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations, America’s leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem.
There will always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternatives, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility. Those voices are inevitable.
But today other voices are heard in the land–voices preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality, wholly unsuited to the sixties, doctrines which apparently assume… that vituperation is as good as victory and that peace is a sign of weakness.
We cannot expect that everyone, to use the phrase of a decade ago, will “talk sense to the American people.” But we can hope that fewer people will listen to nonsense. And the notion that this Nation is headed for defeat through deficit, or that strength is but a matter of slogans, is nothing but just plain nonsense…”
“…Above all, words alone are not enough. The United States is a peaceful nation. And where our strength and determination are clear, our words need merely to convey conviction, not belligerence. If we are strong, our strength will speak for itself. If we are weak, words will be of no help…”
“…America today is stronger than ever before. Our adversaries have not abandoned their ambitions, our dangers have not diminished, our vigilance cannot be relaxed. But now we have the military, the scientific, and the economic strength to do whatever must be done for the preservation and promotion of freedom.
That strength will never be used in pursuit of aggressive ambitions–it will always be used in pursuit of peace. It will never be used to promote provocations–it will always be used to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes.
We in this country, in this generation, are–by destiny rather than choice–the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of “peace on earth, good will toward men.” That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: “except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”
What a great vision. “Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men.” If it just starts with you, perhaps we can make that vision a reality.
Written by Pat Obuchowski