John W. Gardner served as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare under Lyndon Johnson and founded the non-profit organization Common Cause as a “citizens’ lobby” in 1970.
Gardner’s 1963 book “Self-Renewal” described the importance for society of each individual’s role, not in standing “a dreary watch over the ancient values,” but in promoting “their task to recreate those values continuously.” He insists that “we now know enough about the nature of human organization to specify the ingredients” of a society that is capable of renewing itself because it is made up of individuals who are capable of renewing themselves.
Idealistic? Of course, but Gardner’s focus on the individual as the foundation of our institutions is unassailable. As Mohandas Gandhi said, it is up to each of us to “be the change that [we] wish to see in the world.”
Reading “The Rebel League: The Short and Unruly Life of the World Hockey Association” by Ed Willes brought back more memories of the players and teams of the upstart league than I knew I had.
I would say that I didn’t pay much attention to the World Hockey Association during its existence from 1972 to 1979 because I was a pretty big NHL fan during my formative years near Minneapolis, Atlanta and Pittsburgh from the late 60s to mid-70s, following the North Stars, Flames and Penguins.
But I do remember some of the NHL’s all-time greats–Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe at the end of their careers, teenaged Wayne Gretzky at the start of his–helping to establish the league and bring it to a point where four of its teams earned a spot in the senior league. And I enjoyed remembering a lot more names from the book: Mike Antonovich, Paul Shmyr, Steve Durbano, Gilles Gratton, J.C. Tremblay.
Willes, a Canadian hockey writer since 1982, says, “No one seems to remember the WHA wrestled the game away from a handful of NHL owners and took it to new markets, that it opened the door for Europeans, and that it offered a generation of players their first chance at a real payday.”
It’s good to remember pioneers and give credit where credit is due.