Sunday, September 17, 2006

Prosper Blog Contest - Results

The following is my entry in the Prosper Magazine student blog contest. My entry was tied for first runner-up, or second place. First place was awarded to a student from UC Davis who wrote about family values. Half of the judging was based on peer voting and my vote went to her post (we were not permitted to vote for ourselves). It was a well written post, but they all were. What gave her the edge, in my opinion, was her topic. She won $1,000 - the rest of us were awarded $50 each. When added to the day at Perspectives 2006 and the exposure from Prosper, it was well worth the time and effort.

The Apathetic Revolution

“I'd love to change the world - but I don't know what to do,
So I'll leave it up to you.”

These lyrics from the 1971 hit by Alvin Lee and Ten Years After turned out to be prophetic indeed. It was the beginning of a time in this country’s history when so much would be redefined. The political and socio-economic fabric of a nation had been unraveled and rewoven, catching many by surprise and leaving others by the wayside. The decompression following the 60s became the time of the hunter, the hunted and the silent.

The uber-morality of the 60s, with the civil rights and equal rights movements… even the peace marches which finally brought an end to the Vietnam War was replaced with a paradigm shift toward the “self-center.” The “good fight” had been won and it was time to regroup, relax and reflect. We fell back into our collective cocoons - and stayed there. Tom Wolfe’s “me decade” of the 70s became the “me generation;” a status quo that has endured for more than 30 years.

Perhaps it was the ultimate success of these popular uprisings that harkened the coming of the “apathetic revolution” - its battle cry, “It’s none of my business!” We stopped noticing things. Life was comfortable, at least for the silent majority. We wanted to trust our leaders in the face of irrefutable evidence to the contrary. Nixon got us out of Vietnam, made nice with China and nearly got away with Watergate. Had it not been for two nosey reporters… well, no one else paid much attention.

The problem is not that we didn’t learn; some did - too well. Business at every level began to play “follow the leadership.” They added qualifiers, justifiers and rationalizers to redefine that which is right and wrong. The age-old robber-baron practices of days gone by were dressed in new garb only to become the savings and loan debacle turned Enron scandal. Even the recent shenanigans of the likes of Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham went unchecked until he finally tripped over his own greed.

Standard operating procedure is now based on risk assessment. Dirty dealing is nothing of the sort if no one finds out – or if can be lobbied and legislated into law. Morality has become a game of chance; not black or white, but rather shades of risk. It’s ok if the consequences are personally inconsequential. In the quest to obtain wealth and power, anything goes and everyone is fair game. Lawyers continue to argue the letter of the law, never minding its spirit.

Today, news of corruption is virtually a daily occurrence. We’re barely moved when an elected official, civic leader, businessman or even a clergy member gets caught with his or her pants down. Only recently has the punishment begun to fit the white-collar crime. And only then when the sheer magnitude of the offense elicits an outcry. For the vast majority, the risk has proven worth taking.

It’s time to wake up. Our political and business leaders need to know that we, the people, expect them to take the moral high road - and that we are watching. The idealistic visions of utopia of the 60’s have yielded to the all too real apathetic myopia of Lee’s lyrics 35 years later– “So I’ll leave it up to you.”

Who? In his 1961 Inaugural Address, President John F. Kennedy answers: “In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course.”

I believe he was talking to you.


awareness said...

What a busy and interesting week you've had. The opportunity to be a part of this conference and have a chance to take in the speeches as well as write commentary not only is great for networking, it's a practical application of your craft while continuing to learn. Congrats on runner-up, Mike.

PS......Yours was WAYYYYY better. No bias was WAY better. :)

OldLady Of The Hills said...

It is as if something has been put in peole's food or water...a drug that creates apathy...!
I long for the passion of the 60's...
Wonderful piece, Mike!

mckay said...

congratulations on your stellar performance, mike.

...hey, is it just me or does it burn your butt, too, that first runner up gets the same lousy 50 bucks as the chick that messed up her post with incorrect references and once people pointed out her poor research she went in and edited her post???

good thing no one's judging that sentence. it's a bit run on-ish.

so, how are you going to spend the 50 bucks? i say go buy yourself a cool pen for taking reporter notes, you journalist, you. ;0)

mckay said...

chick WHO.......

ugh, i hate when i make mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Congrats! In my eyes (and I believe I speak for all your readers) you are FIRST PLACE!!!

Lee Ann said...

Congratulations! That is awesome.

I love your new picture too.

Anonymous said...

ohhh I like it! I especially liked the end quote... and how right JFK was!

Great accomplishment you must be soooooooo proud! Will you go on to enter more of these type of contests? I imagine it is almost the best kind of exposure you can get for free!

Ellen said...

The way I see it, you still had the best coordinated entry, and well thought out piece than any of the others. So, in my eyes, and it seems your fans as well, yours was number one regardless of how the judges voted. No prejudice here, mind you!

Keep up the great work, we look forward to your insights.

CyberKitten said...

Well done in coming 2nd..... Bit of a drop from a grand to fifty bucks though!

Snaggle Tooth said...

Prize: 50 dollars,
World-wide exposure: priceless!

(any money beats pro-bono)