Leaders and Publics

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The DC body politic is suffering and may die a slow and methodical death by a thousand cuts. Onlookers, even those who are apolitical, are wondering what it all means. Questions and predictions abound, like: What’s Mayor Gray’s political future; does he even have one? “The city will never have another Black mayor.”

Campaign scandals and corruption among local elected officials are all the rage in just about every communications medium. And that may just be where the bigger issue lies. To be sure, there are more discussions than one can probably count with respect to who will fall next and how could “they” have behaved with such disrespect and indifference for the law, and more importantly, for the people they were supposed to be serving. Interestingly, it may well be that it’s in all the chatter that our more fundamental problem(s) lie—in this case we are focused on the trouble, the mis-step, the retribution.

It cannot be overlooked that some of our leaders, (elected, community, business and others), have in some instances fallen prey to the trappings of power. Many of them have long been willing slaves to greed and self-importance. But we must find the good, the lessons of these times. This can/will not happen unless we purposely seek these elements out and work to raise them to the forefront of our discussions and actions.

It may well be true that many of our leaders have lost their way and so, likely their true selves. And that is precisely why we, as a mass must assume our responsibilities with respect to the catastrophe that is their fall from grace.

History’s great thinkers, religious leaders and sages have all warned against the power trip and have encouraged humility among leaders and direction and support from the masses.  And through a simple review of some highlights of how the three major religions of the world view leadership we find that what is clear, and clearly missing from today’s politics is the interaction between leaders and publics.

For instance, When Abu Bakar, addressed his Islamic audience as their new leader he said, “I have been chosen to rule over you, though I am not the best among you. Help me if I am right; correct me if I am wrong. The weak among you will be strong until I have attained for him his due… and the strong among you will be weak until I have made him give what he owes…”
The Jewish faith tells us in the Mishneh Torah, Law of Kings, that Maimonides “insisted that only when the sovereign is able to “cultivate a humble and lowly spirit … and deal graciously and compassionately with the small and the great would his leadership be successful.”

Further, the Bible gives many descriptions of what a “leader” should look like. And equally important, there are instructions for the people regarding what to expect from their leaders. 1st Timothy tells us, “…an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, and able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.”

At the end of the day then, as we take stock of those whom we have designated, elected or simply allowed to serve in leadership positions, the question becomes: shouldn’t we take responsibility for our part in either not demanding that these criterion be met in the first place; or in the case where the leader presents as having these and other necessary attributes, then begins to waiver, moving away from these principles, are we not responsible for helping him/her with whatever restorative processes needed to return him/her to the character we find in 1stTimothy.

It is also clear though that if our efforts to re-shape our leaders are unsuccessful, we are indeed responsible according to our democracy for removing him/her from whatever the leadership position. Not having done so brings us to a place where it appears that as the public that has either not done its due diligence or simply shirked our duties as citizens, not only have our leaders failed us, but we have failed ourselves.

But all hope is not lost. If we assume the belief that all things happen for a reason, we can examine these times of chaos with loving eyes and work toward learning the lessons that are present in any act born out of greed, disregard and all other negative sources—we can, in the words of President Obama handle these times as “teachable moments.” A Course in Miracles says that, “Only what God creates or what you (we) create with the same Will has any real existence.” If this is so, then we simply need to look upon our errors and those of others as moments in time in which our perceptions were misfiring and we were not creating according to the Will of our Creator. Upon recognition/knowledge of this point, we can consciously make the shift back to our true selves and begin again to behave as loving, creative truthful beings—Leaders and publics alike.

 

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