We need visionaries –innovators, dream weavers, truth seekers

Published March 6, 2021, 12:10 AM

by Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid


Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid

I have often wondered about what ails us as a people. We seem to be perpetually in motion but we eventually find ourselves back to where we started.

I am reminded of a quote from Alice in Wonderland which could describe the predicament found among  many of us. The quote  goes:

“Would you tell  me please which way I ought to go from here?”

“It depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

“I don’t much care where –“

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you get to.”

Many of us do not seem to care about our purpose for wanting to get to  where we are going, and therefore if this is the case, it would  not matter which way we  take.

Which is why it is so important for our educational and media systems to undergo a radical restructuring if they have to play the primary role in shaping our mindsets.

But it would have to be the visionaries in our midst who have to start this process – the innovators, the advocates, artists, dream weavers, truth seekers, fact checkers, who have to lead.

I was inspired by the March issue of  Time Magazine which featured the Next 100 Most Influential People. Like the editor, what struck me about most of these leaders was how they coped with crisis.  Most of them became deeply involved with problems that accompanied the pandemic – deepening inequalities, racial and ethnic injustices, rise of fake news, impact of climate change, eroding democracy.

Among them – Kizzmekkia Corbett, who is central to the development of the Moderna mRNA vaccine and the Eli Lilly therapeutic monoclonal antibody that were first to enter clinical trials. As a result, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, her work will have a substantial impact on ending the pandemic.

Then there is Sarah Al Amiri, project lead scientist of  Hope spacecraft of the United Arab Emirates space agency who was cited as most responsible for its triumph in sending spacecraft to Mars. And 80% of her team consisted of women.

Olugbenga Agboola, co-founder of Flutterwave, a digital cash company register which processed more than 80 million transactions worth $7.5 billion, establishing it as Africa’s premier payment solution provider. It has a presence in 17 African countries.

Jason Ballard is a conservation biologist turned construction technology pioneer. He designs house-size printers that can spit out homes for people in need. To date, he  has completed seven 3-D printed homes.

Vijaya Gadde, one of Twitter’s most powerful executives, was the architect of the 2019 decision to ban all political advertising and is responsible for the warning labels that Twitter applied to COVID-19 and election interference misinformation in 2020.

After the pandemic, Alex Stamos helped secure Zoom’s architecture as millions of new users piled on. And, as the 2020 election approached, he helped lead the Election Integrity Partnership, a coalition of research groups that studied and reported on disinformation in real time in an effort to stop it.

Apoorva Mehta established Instacart, the Home Delivery during the start of the pandemic, bringing on 300,000 gig workers. The smartphone is the supermarket of the future, he says of his project which has raised more than $500 million in venture capital.

US Rep. Adam Kinzinger was the first Republican member of Congress to step forward and call for removal of former US President Trump. No job or title is worth more than your integrity, he said.

After five years of analyzing gender equality, Argentinian economist Mercedes D’Alessandro became the government’s first national director of gender equality and economy. Her office published a report quantifying the economic value of unpaid care and domestic work. This work became the basis for budgetary allocation to support women and children.

After Rishi Sunak was appointed to lead Britain’s Treasury in 2020, he quickly became the benevolent face of the government’s response to the pandemic, approving large handouts for many citizens whose jobs were disrupted by the virus.

Finally, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the voice of Belarus’ opposition, is an example of resistance and dignity for all fighting for democracy. When Lukashenko claimed victory despite belief that Tikhanovskaya was the true winner, the people of Belarus took to the streets.

These influentials knew and cared about where they want to get to.

My e-mail, [email protected]