Leaders today are familiar with the demand that they come forward with a new vision. But it is not a matter of fabricating a new vision out of whole cloth. A vision relevant for us today will build on values deeply embedded in human history and in our own tradition. It is not as though we come to the task unready. Men and women from the beginning of history have groped and struggled for various pieces of the answer. The materials out of which we build the vision will be the moral strivings of the species, today and in the distant past.
Most of the ingredients of a vision for this country have been with us for a long time. As the poet wrote, "The light we sought is shining still." That we have failed and fumbled in some of our attempts to achieve our ideals is obvious. But the great ideas still beckonfreedom, equality, justice, the release of human possibilities. The vision is to live up to the best in our past and to reach the goals we have yet to achievewith respect to our domestic problems and our responsibilities worldwide.
From the Preface to On Leadership
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About the Author
John W. Gardner was the US Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare between 1965 and 1968. He served as an advisor under multiple presidential administrations and chaired the President's Commission on White House Fellowships in 1976. In 1964 Mr. Gardner was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civil honor in the United States.