Global Leadership Is Important For Us To Build Always Upward

By Jeffrey Gu, 2019 Luce 24 Under 24 Award Recipient

New York, N.Y.  “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet:” Audre Lorde, ordained Gamba Adisa meaning “She who makes her meaning known,” once proclaimed, “the difference between poetry and rhetoric is being ready to kill yourself instead of your children.”

Lorde lived as an exemplar for the old adage of ‘fighting the good fight’ against all concepts of injustice, from her literary lambasts of ‘forgotten’ minorities in the crusades of Civil Rights, Women’s Suffrage, and Gay Liberation, to her vocalizations of intersectional pride and personal esteem in the face of cancer. She, along with our lionized figures in Wilson, King, Roosevelt, Chavez, Chaplin, Jean King, and Ali, was a hero of her time.

These Americans, preliminary to mesmerizations of legacy, sought to elevate the flawed world around them to a higher moral order, and their pushes for change were born within them from battles of youth. As a society today, we, the United States of America, hegemonically powerful and globally overtaxed as John Winthrop’s “city upon a hill,” with the eyes of all people upon us, a nation reared on the concept of heroes, are now desperately stricken by a lack of such social champions. 

11702674_878972072171660_2198147629350117783_nJeffrey Gu, 2019 Luce 24 Under 24 Award Recipient and ice hockey player.

American scholar Warren G. Bennis, a pioneer in the field of modern Leadership studies, once remarked, “managers do things right, while leaders do the right thing.” Today, we harbor too many of the former, “things right,” and not enough of that latter material, “the right thing,” which is that which makes nations truly great.

American optimism is a resource that renews with the heroes of each coming generation, and while it is true that ‘the past is a vast encyclopedia of calamities we can still fix,’ it is only so if we entrust the new with the yet unfinished burdens of the old. We live in a world that is becoming increasingly less localized.

Now, as the threat of inward, nationalistic reversion to principles of ‘I’ and ‘me’ first in the face of a zero-sum game fear, similar to the inter- embattlements experienced in America’s great social movements of the twentieth century, we need forward-leaning leadership born in this globalized age to bring us closer to our summit of ideals. In simpler phrasing, a global world needs global leaders. 

In July 2017, still rocking in the cradle of adulthood, I took a Greyhound bus to Iowa City for the University’s IWP (International Writing Program) Between the Lines literary summer program. Let loose among 11 Russians, 13 other Americans, and 11 students from Middle Eastern and North African nations, including Jordan, Iraq, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon, we, a young global cohort of college and high school writers, broke down the walls of our parents.

An Israeli girl, at the end of two weeks, spoke of her ‘soft’ education, in which she was taught of how Palestinians hated all Jews viscerally, and ate children. A Palestinian girl with the same first name as the Israeli replied that the two were “best friends” now. Two weeks of talking and listening had wiped away generations of animosities.

They still speak, despite the warring eyes of their elders. I still speak with my friends of the Middle East, Russia, and North Africa; we share our dreams of a safer, more prosperous, and less hateful world. We speak of building more peaceful peoples together, and in the face of everyday fear, have learned to check our basest impulses. 

We are a generation defined by the complexities of our technology. The interconnectivity of the modern world has produced an age group in sync and empathetic with places they’ve never lived, people they don’t regularly in person meet, and histories otherwise unknown.

Young global leadership is critical in a modern context because youth today is markedly measured by far-reaching, cross-continent and cross-ocean extending social networks. The terms “young” and “global” are amorphously intertwined, and the two, constantly buoying each other, are the life raft for the encumbrances of an aging world.

An age of technology needs technology-raised youth to bridge the gap between past and future. As we search for individuals capable of carrying the burdens of internationalization, and its moral responsibilities, it is time to look towards those across the world with eyes still shining, hearts linked in the forge of twenty-first century optimism.

As we take the baton from history, and prepare to ‘fill the unforgiving minute with our own 60 seconds worth of distance run,’ we must not forget a mission to build always upward, and not to tear down. We must not forget that as much as we are driven at times by a compulsion towards personal ambition, so too, were our parents and grandparents.

We do not punish a son for his father’s crimes. We must not forget that as we err as humans, so too did generations previous, so let us not judge insufficiencies of the past too harshly.

Instead, let us give thanks that they progressed up the mountainside the best they could, leaving the remaining journey in our tender palms, until we too, old from the climb, having done what we can, and with hands calloused and coarse, pass the mission on to the next generation of global leaders.

Jeffrey Gu
Jeffrey believes in young global leadership is important for us to build always upward, and not to tear down. Young global leadership is critical in a modern context, because youth today is markedly measured by far-reaching, cross-continent and cross-ocean extending social networks. The terms “young” and “global” are amorphously intertwined, and the two, constantly buoying each other, are the life raft for the encumbrances of an aging world. Jeffrey is an ambitious, industrious, and passionate N.Y.U. student and published translator. As London Student Council President, he was in charge of event planning, communications, financial affairs, and mental well-being advocacy for abroad students at NYU’s London campus, the fourth largest NYU site.


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About The J. Luce Foundation
The Mission of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation, Inc. ( is to support young global leadership impacting positive social change, particularly in the fields of the Arts, Education and Orphan Care. Related charities include Orphans International Worldwide (OIW) and The New York Global Leaders Lions Club, both founded by Jim Luce, born July 24, 1959. 

 July 24th, J. Luce Foundations 20th Annual Summer Soirée (7/19)
‘Luce 24 Under 24’ Summer Soirée Set for July 24 at the China Institute (6/19)
J. Luce Foundation Announces First ‘Luce 24 Under 24’ Awards (5/19)
J. Luce Leadership Team Lauded by Forbes, Gates, Ford Foundation (9/18)

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The Editors
The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness is the communications platform of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation ( There are now more than 100 contributors around the world to this publication.

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