Visionaryness and Popular Culture

Some people have it, some people don’t. It’s a blurry line, but if you go through some of the great figures in history you can sort of hold up your thumb and give a ruling as to how much “visionaryness” they display.

In a kind of ironic fashion, many of our great visionaries seems to have earned their titles by being conduits for existing movements as much as (or more than) originating them. Literal revolutionary leaders are great examples for this phenomenon: was Ghandi a great visionary? Yes. Was Indian independence his idea? Probably not.

Martin Luther King, Jr., similarly, is regarded as a visionary leader in the civil rights movement. He is famous for his speeches, and his presence, and his ability to inspire people. Did the civil rights movement begin with him? Again, no.

In other words our approach to visionaryness departs from the meaning of the word: we do not look for leaders who have created visions and sold them to us, rather, we look to those who are best able to identify and communicate to us in the language of the emotions and issues that matter to us at that time. Our visionaries are often the people who can tap into our own zeitgeist.