As Flag Day arrives on June 14, I have a confession to make. Outside of an endearing International Day ceremony at my girls’ school featuring brightly colored flags carried by elaborately dressed children, my patriotism has been strained in recent years. Yet now I am intrigued by the rhetoric of hope coming from the capital. While some may be wishing for less transparency to fortify their hope, I am encouraged by promises to restore the integrity of political life and to rethink progress.
In February, President Obama addressed Congress to say: "…we have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity… all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day...Well that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here."
As a scholar investigating the ways and means of anticipation, as a mother, as a blogger on Flag Day, this commitment to responsibly governing the future is heartening. I am watching to see if foresight methodologies will have a role in structuring the abundance of ignorance, uncertainty and complexity that plague our messiest national problems. I am curious to see whose future prevails.
During a televised future-oriented Obama speech in May, our daughter, puzzled, asked: “Can he see into the future?” I give a frustrated “No” followed by her persistent “but why did he say…” “Shhhhh” was my rushed reply. This comes from our politically astute girl who recently interrupted another conversation my husband and I were having about “bad leaders”. She argued, “They can’t be a leader if they are bad,” noting what should be an oxymoron.
She gets the ideas spot on and the questions right. If you cannot see the future, what are you talking about? How can leaders deal with a time that is yet to come responsibly, transparently, critically and inspirationally?
Time will tell if thoughtful foresight is carried out effectively, if the future of all of our children is seriously considered, and if the rhetoric of hope becomes translated into action that can make us all want to celebrate Flag Day.