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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Are Today's Leaders The Solution Or The Problem

Our country has a new enemy now: ISIS. Certainly this group is on friendly terms with evil as it passionately embraces brutality. And we are being told that this group poses an immediate threat to our country and thus what is required from our elected officials is leadership.

But the dangers posed by ISIS is not the only situation that has us looking for leadership from our elected officials. We have internal problems that cause us to to do the same. And we have called our own nation the leader of the free world. And such a leader needs its own leader. So when we go to elect a new President in 2016, we will be seeking a new leader, a leader's leader.

Now the opposite of the above leadership mentality was the working ethic of Occupy Wall Street (OWS). That ethic was a paradox resulting from putting in conjunction the statement, 'we are all leaders,' with statement, 'we have no leaders.' And though OWS was not as pure in working this paradox as it claimed, it provided significant steps in a different direction. The opposite of relying on leaders is leading oneself or being self-governed. And this self-leadership isn't a call to a radical libertarianism; rather, it is a call to group self-governance.

So the greatest question each nation in the world faces today is: Will we continue with the status quo of relying on leaders who are chosen based on the solutions they propose and the promises they pledge to keep, or will we discontinue our laissez-faire relationship with government--a relationship exhibited in the voting ethic of trying to elect a government we can ignore until the next election-- by looking to lead ourselves.

Of course the next question becomes, how can we lead ourselves while voting for elected officials? To become self-governed, wouldn't we have to completely eliminate our representative form of government? This blog will answer the latter question later. First we need to take a look at the relationship between being free and having leaders.

It's odd that not many Americans have questioned America's claim to be the leader of the Free World. Not many of us have asked the two important questions that would cause us to examine this rather self-flattering claim we make. The two question not being asked are:

  1. How can those who are under the leadership of someone else be free?
  2. Why do those who are free need to be led?
See, we Americans don't feel infringed on by America's "leadership" in the world. That is because we are the ones in charge--or to be more precise, the government we elect is the group giving the orders. But the question here becomes: How do the people from the different countries in the "Free World" perceive our leadership. For if they feel infringed on or if they have become passive and wait for orders to follow, they are no longer free. And if America attempts to use coercion to get other countries to fall in line, then those other countries that submit are not free

The second question basically infers the same concept but from a different perspective. If I, or whatever group I am in, am free, then why do I need a leader telling me what to do? We are told that if we follow orders, we have a better chance at becoming prosperous and being secure. So we should note here that prosperity and security are the carrots being dangled for why I or my group should follow the dictates of a leader. But still how can I be free if I need to be led?

By now, we should see that there is a certain inconsistency with being led and being free. Being led means I follow someone else's dictates. But if I am following someone else's dictates, how can I be free? Perhaps we should admit to ourselves here that, all too often, we give up self-governance for the promise of acquiring and keeping a greater prosperity. To put all of this in Biblical terms, we are choosing the love of money as our first love and will be willing to ride in on the coattails of our leaders regardless of the methods they use to provide prosperity.

But what about our representative form of government? Might we ask whether we can be free and self-governing while electing representatives who will make decisions in our place? We could ask that but we are not allowed to. But those who wish to be self-governed  should take a different approach to voting than what is traditionally taken by those loyal to the Two-Party system. 

How should our approach to voting be different? Instead of voting for those who believe that part of being a leader is pretending to know how to solve our problems and thus make promises, we should vote for those candidates whose highest priority and greatest attribute is to listen to us. And by listening to us, I don't mean that they will merely spend time listening to our problems. Rather, we should vote for the candidates who take our suggestions for solving problems and work to implement them. That is we should vote for those candidates who desire to find out what we think should be done. So instead of voting for the best or strongest authoritarian commander, we should be voting for the best listener who is skilled at implementing what we tell him/her to do. As a result, our political campaigns should run all year round and consist of our elected officials seeking our views rather than trying to impress us with the "strength" of their convictions and "wisdom" of their proposals. For should we note that the "strength" and "wisdom"  associated with any candidate is partly due to marketing and is often a manufactured mirage to win elections.

And outside the border of our country, those countries that follow the leadership of a single country are subject to the same fate as the people who allow a national leader to emerge and tell them what to do. Instead, decisions as to how to respond to an international crisis should be made jointly and by consensus rather than by the dictates of a single person or even nation.

Thus, we return to the need for leadership in our new crisis. We are being threatened by ISIS. So how should our elected officials respond? The immediate call is for our officials, our President in particular, to reassure us by offering "strong" leadership. The stronger the leadership, the more secure we can feel in the face of danger. But what is strong leadership other than mastery of the imperative? And if our President is master of the imperative, how can any person or country supporting him be considered free? 

And so now we return to the original comparison made in this blogpost. We can choose to continue with the status quo and look to vote for the next leader who pretends to have a handle on all domestic and foreign problems but who is destined to disappoint us, or we can adopt the philosophy of, though not the implementation adopted by, Occupy Wall Street. Remember that the status quo is leader oriented where we are told to hitch our wagon to the star who will promises to lead the way. The Occupy Wall Street approach, on the other hand, calls on us to participate more and more so that eventually we are leading ourselves, we are exercising self-governance. The former requires little attention and participation on our part while the latter demands great attention but gives us control.

The current disapproval rates of government tell us that neither major political party can deliver the leaders who can actually get the job done though they always seem to be able to rob us of the ability to govern ourselves. The result is that we either give up on voting or be continually fooled into voting for the next set of inept leaders. So isn't it time that we change how we select our elected officials? Isn't it time that we demand that our political candidates spend more time listening to us than we spend listening to them?


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