Moral Authority

Who gets to decide what is best for the community?
Last week we discussed the tension between loyalty and mobility within communities.  This week we talked about moral authority as the key factor in helping communities evolve, especially when facing a crisis. This is especially poignant for us, if we are trying to start a movement to live out these ideas.

We identified four phases in the birth of a movement, using the American Revolution as a role model:
  1. Artists: Original thinkers who introduce inspiring ideas (Montesquieu. Thomas Paine)
  2. Men of Letters: Like-minded communities who build a shared vision of the future (Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson)
  3. Men of Action: Decisive leaders who make that vision a reality (George Washington)
  4. Men of Systems: Organizers who build processes to ensure the vision's survival (Alexander Hamilton, James Madison)
Interestingly, the basis of moral authority shifts between phases:
  1. Artists: Being true to their convictions
  2. Letters: Generosity in helping the community build consensus
  3. Action: Willingness to sacrifice and take great risks
  4. Systems:  Pragmatic effectiveness in getting things done
This poses a conundrum for us as we are trying to shift from "Art" to "Letters", which requires us to focus on building bridges to others rather than merely being true to ourselves.  Can we cross that chasm? Stay tuned...

© 2020 Ernest Prabhakar & Ernest Bruce