Business In Society
Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Business in Society Blog

Don’t despair. Somehow, some day, we’ll get through this mess

Sure, it can be depressing.

Fighting global climate change and solving US healthcare are mighty formidable challenges. And the Trump administration — in addition to its many other questionable initiatives — has made them much more difficult.

Even Winston Churchill’s oft-quoted solace may ring a bit hollow this week: (“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing after they’ve tried everything else.”)

The challenges are so monumental that optimism seems quixotic, even utopian.

But at least for a few days, let’s acknowledge that there are glimmers of hope on the horizon. 

First, a moment with  Farhad Manjoo of The New York Times  who offers a useful reminder: “Fighting Climate Change? See Y2K”: “Some recall the computing scare [of the late 1990s] as a joke. But the collective effort to prevent a calamity could be a model to combat global warming … There are important lessons in the unlikely story of how the world came to mitigate the effects of a ticking bomb under modern civilization.”

Manjoo contends that “if you want to prompt expensive, global action, you need to tell people the absolute worst that could happen … Americans have been good at getting things done after the stakes have become clear … Y2K is one of the precious few examples where we mobilized to fight something looming on the horizon — the same kind of mobilization we now need for climate change.”

Now, three of those “glimmers” –

1. Climate change: Although the Trump administration is formally withdrawing the nation from the Paris climate change agreement, American states, cities and business leaders are taking up the cause with gusto. See, Report: “The U.S. Will Exceed Its Paris Accord Goals Despite Trump’s Official Withdrawal”  

2. U.S. healthcare policy: After almost eight years of slugging it out on the Affordable Care Act Republicans and Democrats this week are showing signs of exhaustion. Reluctantly but realistically, in the months (years?) ahead they may embark on the arduous path to compromise. U.S. public opinion is swinging very much in the direction of bipartisan-cooperation.

3. And the powerful business community is stepping up to its social responsibilities. One of the more incisive expressions of that commitment was recently offered by Stanley Bergman, CEO of Henry Schein Inc.: “We as business leaders have a responsibility to be engaged in the shaping of society … we should be societal leaders during this time when civility is severely challenged … we should work with all, including our elected officials, to instill a spirit of bipartisanship and civil discourse. We should demand that our elected officials, regardless of political belief, put aside their political differences to work together for the greater good of all Americans.”

In the end, how relevant is Mandela’s, “It always seems impossible until it’s done”?

Some scholars doubt that he actually said that. Even so, it’s quite a serviceable thought for the seemingly insoluble challenges upon us.