What does it take for Americans to do great things; to go to the moon, to win wars, to dig canals linking oceans, to build railroads across a continent? In independent thought about this question, Neil Armstrong and I concluded that it takes a coincidence of four conditions, or in Neil’s view, the simultaneous peaking of four of the many cycles of American life. First, a base of technology must exist from which to do the thing to be done. Second, a period of national uneasiness about America’s place in the scheme of human activities must exist. Third, some catalytic event must occur that focuses the national attention upon the direction to proceed. Finally, an articulate and wise leader must sense these first three conditions and put forth with words and action the great thing to be accomplished. The motivation of young Americans to do what needs to be done flows from such a coincidence of conditions…. The Thomas Jeffersons, The Teddy Roosevelts, The John Kennedys appear. We must begin to create the tools of leadership which they, and their young frontiersmen, will require to lead us onward and upward.
Dr. Harrison H. Schmidt
Sen., New Mexico
[If we succeed in bringing democracy, capitalism, and peace to the Mideast then in the years to come this will be considered such a “great thing”.–Joe]