An Ontology for Public Kinship as a Leadership Platform

Updated: Dec 9, 2020


Article by:

Dr. Bobby William Austin

President of Neighborhood Associates


Originally Published by :

International Leadership Association

Link to Original Article



Washington, DC | June 24, 2020


Albert Camus's The Plague, published in 1948, chronicles a devastating pandemic that closes a coastal town in North Africa. During the plague, as one might expect, there is huge social, economic, and, of course, personal loss and devastation. Even so, the unnamed narrator declares at the close of the novel that "...to state quite simply what we learn in times of pestilence [is] that there are more things to admire in men than to despise." We are beginning to see this today – not only in America but around the world.


Americans are, in large measure, showing great signs of compassion and sensitivity to the needs of their fellow Americans. This Public Kinship is a natural way of coming together in a time of crisis. We must come to grips with how we can maintain Public Kinship – these kinds of individual acts – as a permanent aspect of our social life in America. But while we may wish to maintain and extend this ideal as a new moral order in the post-pandemic world, we need to understand that this will be done not by commands but by precept and example, by watching how individuals lead themselves to do good things for each other. Some kind of forward, creative, innovative thinking about society itself is a necessity.


The COVID-19 pandemic has put what V.F. Calverton called the "American Mind" to the test to see what we will reimagine, or even just imagine, as the common good in American life. You hear today on television and other media that we are rethinking how to open the country, asking: How will we determine what is safe? How will we reimagine both the workplace and workspace? How will we educate our children and ourselves? But I have not heard us give much thought to how we will reimagine our relationships – one human to another.


We need to take advantage of this national pause to build an infrastructure that will allow the old normal to die so as to give birth to a new world of ideas. Each individual must study, ch