We Must Focus Our Attention
by Richard Rowe
On The "Big" Picture
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As a people, we spend an inordinate amount of time debating and discussing issues that are really inconsequential in the total scheme of things. In other words, we are still focused on symptoms and not causes, the superficial and not the substantive, and the trivial rather than the essential elements of our very existence. We appear to be confused and overwhelmed with most discussions related to our future both locally and nationally, and we continue to accommodate ourselves to the specious agendas of others. "A people cannot develop into a serious "autonomous" community" states Haki Madhubuti, without a financial base that initiates and provides for the community's creativity and resources." Are we prepared to really compete on the socio-economic stage of group development and expansion? Are we focused on the "big picture" characteristics that will allow people of African ancestry to optimize their future and their children's future?
A focus on the "big" picture necessitates that we asked the following questions. What characteristics will be necessary to determine success in the economy for a group of people in the twenty-first century? What will be the pre-requisite motivations and underlying attitudes needed to cause a group of people to succeed in all life-giving areas of human development in the twenty-first century? And, of the all factors that will determine long-term survival for a group, which factor (i.e., political, economic, social, spiritual, technological, etc.) will be most important? Given the realities of demographic shifts, advances in new technologies and a transnational labor force, I believe these are all critical questions for any group of people, but especially for people of African ancestry.
In a very powerful book entitled "Tribes," the author Joel Kotkin focuses his attention on five powerful groups, or as he refers to them as "global tribes", which have dominated the global economy in the past and the five groups that will continue to dominate the world economy in the future. The Jews, Anglo-Saxons, Japanese, Chinese and the Indians are the five groups under Kotkin's microscope, and he brilliantly reveals those characteristics that are shared by the five groups which enables them to maintain their dominance. "In the future", states Kotkin, "the quintessential characteristics that will determine success will be:"
- A strong ethnic identity and sense of mutual dependence that helps the group adjust to changes in the global economic and political order without losing its essential unity.
- A global network based on mutual trust that allows the tribe/group to function collectively beyond the confines of national and regional borders.
- A passion for technical and other knowledge from all possible sources, combined with an essential open-mindedness that fosters rapid cultural and scientific development critical for success in the 21st century.
These "big" picture characteristics present enormous challenges for black folks. If we are going to be in a position to withstand total economic dependency on others, then we must, without equivocation or trepidation, focus our attention on building a strong, self-sustaining economy that must be built on the aforementioned characteristics. Only then will we be in the position to truly control our social, political and economic destiny, find our fullest future expression and flourish in the emerging new world economy. Simply put, we cannot look to the state, government bureaucracies or the wider society for a "security blanket." Either we focus our attention on the "big" picture or we will be displaced by the newcomers in the marketplace, and over time, in the political arena.