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October 14, 2015 | by Bob Weidner

Holding Up the Sky

Associations and community in an uncertain time

“Nothing truly valuable can be achieved except by the unselfish cooperation of many individuals.…”                   

—Albert Einstein

In these very tough economic, and divisive political times we seem to be at a critical turning point. I can’t remember more depressing conditions for metals and manufacturing as the domestic economy stutters and the global economy contracts. At the same time, when this nation should be coming together to solve serious issues, it instead looks to be slipping further into paralysis. Even a long-range program to rebuild this country’s disintegrating infrastructure, with no debate about the need and bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, has no chance of realization.

It is a time of political division and animosity. A time when especially manufacturing and metals executives, watching margins shrink and markets decline, might well be feeling they are pretty much alone in riding out this destructive storm. I suggest to you that exactly the opposite is true. MSCI, in fact, offers a dramatic counterpoint, a lesson in the meaning of cooperation and working together, a very real example of the very real value of a trade association. 

After all, you are diverse in your interests, in your lines of business and in your politics. You are often competitors. And I am well aware that you frequently have very different ideas of what the goals of your trade association should be.

Yet, I also suggest that we are an organization of leaders who understand the value of an association, understand the importance of not letting our differences keep us from working together for the greater good of our business and civic communities.

We watch our political leaders abandon their jobs, yell at each other instead of seriously discussing issues, hold up selfish personal interests as a mask for leadership. So now, more than ever, we must renew our belief in the power of an association as a forum that allows us to come together to think critically and work seriously toward resolving problems that affect us all.

We witness the power of the collective at MSCI, every time we award a scholarship, every time we send a promising leader to a professional development course. We witness it every time we come to a conference for original perspectives and information on business and civic issues that we cannot get anywhere else. The quality of information we offer is just one of the many elements that distinguishes us from other associations. As part of our mission to help you run your businesses better we believe that our unique conference insights on technology, globalization, demographics, government and the economy are critical tools that help you assess the future. None of this would be possible without the economic and personal power of our collective.

So now, more than ever, we must renew our belief in the power of an association as a forum that allows us to come together to think critically and work seriously toward resolving problems that affect us all.

This association offers you a network of support, an invaluable resource for sharing problems, potential solutions and business contacts. We are here to stimulate new thinking, creative problem solving, and business and industry prosperity.  We know that all of this is possible when individuals embrace one another, put aside personal and non-essential differences, and come together to address the issues that affect us all.

We can do far more together than apart. Now is the time to be more involved in your community, your association and your business. Perhaps one of our jobs, then, in this time of political divisiveness, is to stand as a model of what is possible in the development of collective wisdom.

As the author of The Once and Future King, T.H. White, rather graphically put it: “The destiny of man is to unite, not to divide. If you keep on dividing you end up as a collection of monkeys throwing nuts at each other out of separate trees.”

Or, more gracefully, the African American scholar and poet, Askhari Johnson Hodari wrote: “If everyone helps to hold up the sky, then one person does not become tired.”

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