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Her Father's Voice
Produced by Susan Stamberg
Listen with RealAudio in 14.4 or 28.8 flavors. (9:00)

Leadership Speech
as Read by Robert Levitt (Susan Stamberg's father)

In every field of human endeavor, he that is first must perpetually live in the white light of publicity. Whether the leadership be vested in a man or in a manufactured product, emulation and envy are ever at work. In art, in literature, in music, in industry, the reward and the punishment are always the same. The reward is widespread recognition. The punishment: fear, denial, and detraction.

When a man's work becomes the standard for the whole world, it also becomes the target for the shaft of the envious few. If his work be merely mediocre, he will be left severely alone. If he achieve a masterpiece it will set a million tongues a-wagging. Jealously does not protrude its forked-tongue at the office who produces a commonplace painting. Whatsoever you write or paint or play or sing or build, no one will strive to surpass or to slander you unless your work be stamped with the seal of a genius.

Long, long after a great work or a good work has been done, those who are disappointed or envious, continue to cry out that it cannot be done. Spiteful little voices in the domain of art were raised against our own Whistler as a mountebank long after the big world had acclaimed him its greatest artistic genius. Multitudes flocked to Bayreuth to worship at the musical shrine of Wagner while the little group of those whom he had de-throned and displaced argued angrily that he was no musician at all. The little world continued to protest that Fulton could never build a steamboat while the big world flocked to the river banks to see his boat steam by.

The leader is assailed because he IS a leader and the effort to equal him is merely added proof of that leadership. Failing to equal or excel, the follower seeks to depreciate and to destroy, but only confirms once more the superiority of that which he strives to supplant. There is nothing new in this - it is as old as the world and as old as the human passion. Envy, fear, grief, ambition and the desire to surpass, and of all avails nothing. If the leader truly leads, he remains the leader. Master poet, master painter, master workman. Each in his turn is assailed, and each holds his love through the ages. That which is good or great makes itself known no matter how loud the clamor of denial. That which deserves to live, lives.


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