Words by Paul Cadman, Chair Downtown Birmingham

I have been observing over the last few weeks, how our political leaders have shared the public platform with varying degrees of success. On our behalf, the news media pose questions. In presidential fashion our leaders respond, trying to portray comfort to an increasingly desperate public.

There is no acknowledgement of mistakes. There are many examples of our leaders trying to convince us that every action taken is based on the best science.

But what is science other than the repeated testing of hypotheses? We believe something to be true and science tries to prove you wrong. Relying on science is relying on uncertainty: nothing is known, everything must be questioned. We must be vigorous in our rigour.

Uncertainty requires a different kind of leadership: vulnerability, open-mindedness and humility. We don’t know everything. We can never know anything. Closing our minds in the face of unprecedented circumstances is not only foolish, it is self-destructive. We do not know how long the pandemic will last. We do not know the extent of the fiscal claw back once the economy becomes the focus of political activity.

What we do know is that our people expect us to lead. They expect us to be fair. They expect us to manage our cash flow, our customers and our strategy. That is not unreasonable but if we expect to lead in the next 24 months the way we did in the last 24, we are misleading our people.

It’s time to prepare and adapt. All eyes will be upon us. Birmingham is a hotbed of skills, diversity and creativity. Our forefathers led us to where we are. We cannot let our great-grandchildren down by not stepping up to the mark and asserting our interdependence. It is is our hands.