Columnist Michael Hayman: To deliver progress you have to believe that it is possible
These ‘are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind’.
And if you thought these words referred to our lives today you would be wrong, writes Michael Hayman, co-founder of campaigns firm Seven Hills.
They belong to the ‘ripple of hope’ speech delivered in 1966 by US Senator Robert Kennedy at the University of Cape Town in the heart of apartheid South Africa.
It’s the speech that defined Kennedy’s idealism and his view that hope was the boundless engine that could deliver progress. Central to it, the view of a better future, but a view that would be put to the sorest of tests, ultimately at the cost of his own life.
Because hope for Kennedy was no fairweather friend it was at the heart of a courageous philosophy of life that you had to struggle and fight for.
The parallels with the 1960s shouldn’t be overlooked. These were angry and fragile times. Times that often spilled over into violence, but times that would also go on to deliver great advances.
Fast forward to today and we find a world that needs to dig deep to find new reserves of hope and courage to deliver the health, social and economic progress we need.
For whether you are in public office, running a business or working in one, a parent or a young person looking to the future, it’s our attitude today to the risks and opportunities around us, which will define what happens tomorrow. And with it our ability to pull through and renew.
This year, 2020, has emerged as a year not for the faint hearted. It is and will challenge us all in very different ways - from threats to health and livelihoods through to our determination to deliver a fairer world. Which is why it must be a year that in the face of uncertainty we go on to deliver our best.
That is why the steps that we take next and how we take them are of vital importance.
The sure footedness of hope or the stumble of pessimism? To deliver progress you have to believe it is possible.
Kennedy saw this vividly, which is why in the danger he could also see the power of our creativity and ingenuity to deliver better days ahead.
In that view, nothing has changed. With that attitude, there is everything to play for.