“How I wish, how I wish you were here
We’re just two lost souls
Swimming in a fishbowl
Year after year
Running over the same old ground
What have we found?
The same old fears
Wish you were here”

– Roger Waters & David Gilmour of Pink Floyd

Almost 40 years ago I was reading a short story by Jerzy Kosiński — the Polish novelist most famous for his novel Being There — about a protagonist who is drowning in the opening scene, only to find an island, where he builds a simple but sustainable life by his shipwrecked self…

“Even intellectuals should have learned by now…that
objective rationality is not the default position of the human mind,
much less the bedrock of human affairs.”

— Roy Blount, Jr.

For the duration of my second year in law school, I clerked at the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) and spent a summer in England, studying and visiting Her Majesty’s Prisons (HMP). I’ve spent enough time inside federal and commonwealth prisons to appreciate Henry David Thoreau’s jail house answer to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s question about why Thoreau was in jail: “Waldo, the question is what are you doing out there?”

“It’s sad, so sad
Why can’t we talk it over?
Ohh, it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word”

– Elton John

In the late 1960s, when I was in fifth through seventh grades, my best friend, Becky, lived a few houses away. I was a motherless child and she was my shepherd through the tumultuous years of early adolescence, helping me navigate childhood angst and the feelings of not belonging, not being cool, not fitting in. …

“From a distance you look like my friend
Even though we are at war
From a distance I can’t comprehend
What all this war is for”

–Julie Gold

This week, we lost folk singer Nanci Griffith, whom I have been listening to for probably 40 years or more. Though she wrote dozens of songs, most were made famous by other artists such as Kathy Mattea, Juice Newton, Chet Atkins and Suzy Bogguss. Ironically, her best known song may be From a Distance, which Bette Midler also covered but which was written by Julie Gold. Each of the versions — including…

“Which office do I go to, to get my reputation back?”
– Raymond Donovan, Former Labor Secretary Under President Ronald Reagan

Having worked on so many historic crises over the decades — the Catholic Church, AIG, the Gulf oil spill, Guantanamo Bay, the Dubai Ports fallout, the Boko Haram kidnappings of nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls, the Champlain Towers South collapse and hundreds more — the story behind the stories has always fascinated me.

It has been a great honor to be in these war rooms around the world, trying to get the truth out in the most challenging of circumstances…

“The greatest love stories are not those in which love is
only spoken, but those in which love is acted upon.”

– Dr. Steve Maraboli

When I was in college, the 1970 movie Love Story was still all the rage. For us young, impressionable teenagers, it seemed to hold the keys for mature love and relationships. The famous — or more accurately — infamous line, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” was used several times throughout the film, passing for Hollywood’s version of wisdom. It was, after all, the pre-Yoda days.

Even at that age it struck me…

“Your love is better than ice cream
Better than anything else that I’ve tried
And your love is better than ice cream
Everyone here knows how to fight

And it’s a long way down
It’s a long way down
It’s a long way down to the place
Where we started from.”

– Sarah McLachlan

What are the limits to conscious capitalism? Companies increasingly feel compelled to take political positions, but what are the limits once you engage?

When I first saw the headlines of Ben & Jerry’s weighing in on the occupied West Bank — that they would stop selling…

“Justice is a train that always comes too late.”
–Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Knowledge may be power but too much of it at once can be, well, overpowering. I’ve been a consummate reader since childhood when Catcher in the Rye and Instant Replay captured my imagination and I realized that entire evenings could be lost in books. A decade later I recognized that a career could be built on words.

There are days, however, when, like Honoré de Balzac and his 50 cups of coffee per day, I am over-satiated with information and lose intellectual interest in almost everything — a sharp…

“Our history, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived
but if faced with courage it need not be lived again.”

— Maya Angelou

It’s been 40 years and though I haven’t thought about it in years, I can still see in my mind’s eye the flowered dress she was wearing as she walked into the restaurant. Tanned, with dark hair, it was the moment that bad novelists and B movie scripts include, when time seems to slow down and a halo is backlit to accentuate the beauty and love at first sight.

It was a woman walking from across the…

“Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest pushin just the right placeit can be tipped.”

–Malcolm Gladwell

So much of history occurs not with a bang, but a whimper. If we listen closely enough and watch carefully, we can witness it, the moment when the scales tip in the other direction.

With the near-meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor — amazingly, 12 days after the release of the anti-nuclear power movie China Syndrome in March 1979, creating one the greatest movie coincidences of all time…

Richard Levick

Richard Levick is Chairman and CEO of @LEVICK, a leading global communications and public affairs firm.

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