Here's my column from today's Saipan Tribune.
A friend of mine recently asked me to think into the future and come up with a vivid image of the “ideal” CNMI. What will be the
As I began to think about the ideal CNMI, I realized that my initial thoughts are not related to our industries or our economy or our landscape. My primary thoughts focus on our most important resource, a largely untapped and latent resource: the human beings that populate this land. It’s far more important for me to live in a place where the people are vibrant than to live in a land where all the infrastructure is developed, and the economy is booming, but the people are not.
I realized that I had gone through a similar exercise about seven years ago. At that time, I was involved in creating what we hoped would become a world-class school. We sat down and defined the vision of the institution. We didn’t focus on the buildings and grounds and income. Our vision was focused on imagining the type of people we wanted to emerge from the school. And even then, we didn’t ask, “What do we want our kids to be when they grow up?” We asked “What do we want our kids to be like when they grow up?”
And so again, as I ponder the future of the Commonwealth, I think that we need to focus our vision on the people. What do we want to be like? As I sat at a table defining the vision of Brilliant Star School, we all tried to imagine our children as adults, in a room with other people, and we imagined what we hoped they would be like. We distilled all the thoughts and images into four key qualities.
As I thought about my friend’s challenge to imagine the ideal CNMI, I realized that in my mind these same four qualities will define the vibrant person of the Commonwealth. There really is nothing to prevent us from excelling as a community, to be a global showcase of vibrant people. We have developed many vibrant individuals who personify these four qualities, but the untapped potential is vast. The only limitation placed upon us is in our own minds, and our failure to visualize the possibilities. Now, as we are swept up in profound changes, we have the opportunity to define our vision for the one resource that will define the future of the Commonwealth more than any other – the people. A vibrant people will naturally develop an economically and ecologically vibrant community. But by focusing first and foremost on economic fixes, we are placing the cart before the ox. It’s time to think primarily of the people, and to define a vision of what we will be like as individuals and as a society.
Here is my vision of the four defining qualities of the people of the future Commonwealth. They are the same four qualities that define the vision of
- Global understanding. We recognize that the world of the 21st century is one of increasing interdependence among peoples and nations of the world. We recognize the fundamental truth of the oneness of humanity – that all people are one. Our policies derive from this reality. We are comfortable as “world citizens”, with a global perspective and understanding of issues. We are free from all forms of prejudices -- race, national origin, ethnicity, language, economic status and religion. We recognize the equality of the sexes, and we celebrate the diversity of the world’s peoples and cultures. We are promoters of unity.
- Exemplary Character. We recognize that ultimately, the strength of ones character is the essence of ones self. Character is that set of virtues that are developed in an individual. We have developed, foremost among our virtues, truthfulness, trustworthiness, kindness, courtesy, compassion, confidence, joyfulness and humility. We are emotionally and spiritually well-developed.
- Service to humanity. We recognize that meaning and happiness come from selfless service to others. We strive to find ways to serve others – our friends, families, neighbors and co-workers; our community; and humanity as a whole.
- Creative minds. The creative mind is one that can bring knowledge to bear on new situations and challenges. To this end, we are well versed in the branches of knowledge, with emphasis on mathematics, literature, science, history and arts. We have learned to independently investigate reality, to seek intelligently, and to discover things for ourselves. We practice applying this body of knowledge and this set of skills to the challenges around us. We use our minds to become agents of meaningful change in our communities.
It is not only possible to move in this direction. In my mind it is imperative. What is your vision of the people of the future Commonwealth?