“We must all hang together or we will all hang separately.” (Ben Franklin)

I woke up this morning secure in the knowledge that our fearless leaders in Washington had once again reached an agreement to raise the debt limit and therefore avert a financial crisis, at least till after the 2012 elections. Read between the lines folks, the only disaster they averted was not getting reelected next year. I can assure you that both parties will spend the rest of this year and the next, bragging about how they saved the country and how so much more work needs to be done and who better to do it for us than the same representatives who came to our rescue in the first place. So after 12 weeks of political maneuvering and pandering to the electorate we now have the authority to go deeper into debt. Did anybody anywhere really think they were going to do otherwise?

And they call this leadership? Ben Franklin would be outraged. As it stands today, America barely resembles the country our forefathers died for. This particular quote has gained new significance and I think the special legislative committee who will undertake the task of deficit reduction should take this as their pledge of allegiance on day one. My fellow Americans, we have a huge problem and it’s not just money. Leadership is dead and buried. We have no leaders in positions of authority and none on the horizon. We don’t even think of real leadership as a discipline that needs to be studied, taught and cultivated. Sure we have college degrees that include leadership studies but most colleges are ill-equipped to produce real leaders. Why, because real leaders have real experience in real life not some fictional version written in a book by a professor who never left the university. No one ever became a great leader until they got their hands dirty doing real work. Of all the people, men and women, that I looked up to in my life the only ones I was willing to follow were the ones who were sweating right along with me.

If I was President now, the first thing I would do with the leaders of both parties is make them spend a day picking up trash in the slums of D.C. and I would be the first one there and the last to leave. I would make them do this until they were tired enough to be rational. After 12 weeks of trash detail, at least we would have something positive to show for our efforts. That’s what leaders do, they lead by example, they share the pain, they inspire others by working harder than everybody else, they do the dirty work that counts for something and they empathize with the least fortunate among us. They don’t order pizza or play golf while there’s work to be done.

America was founded by the greatest leaders of all time. Just think about the significance of the Declaration of Independence. Those who signed it were essentially agreeing to die for what they believed in and for the universal right to be free. They knew full well that if they lost the war to the British, King George would not hesitate to hang all of them. That’s a pretty harsh outcome just for signing a piece of paper but they all believed in each other and their cause. Can you imagine any of them worrying about reelection? They led by example and by action and they never wavered in their clarity of purpose. I would give anything to see just one politician at any level of government demonstrate that much leadership.

I believe we have lots of leaders in this country but none of them reside inside the Beltway. The first ones that come to my mind are the fire captains in New York City that led their men into the World Trade Center. They had to know it was going to be a horrible day but they went anyway because that was their job. They didn’t stand outside arguing about who should get credit or why this happened, they just did their best and died trying. Leaders understand that to do any less than everything means no one will ever follow you. How many people are alive today because those firemen were willing to give the last full measure of devotion, as Lincoln described it in the Gettysburg Address?

The American ideals established in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are the basis for freedom the world over. They were written by men who believed that human life has absolute value, that freedom is a God-given right and that a common cause holds us all together. They wrote their names into the history books on July 4, 1776 and they expect us to carry on for the good of all mankind. They gave us a perfect example of what leadership is and how important leaders are to every cause. We should all be ashamed if we fail to uphold the values given to us by those who came before us and left us with the greatest opportunity for happiness in the history of the world. We can do this together and we can do it now. We know what needs to be done and what sacrifices will have to be made. It’s not going to be easy but what alternative is there? Failure is not an option. Please Mr. President, be the leader we all want and need.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content


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3 Responses to “We must all hang together or we will all hang separately.” (Ben Franklin)

  1. Suzanne says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE and AMEN! Great words, great read!

  2. Amy P. says:

    Now that I have time to write a worthy response, here I go:
    I wholeheartedly agree with your points on the lack of leadership in the government today. Somewhere, before my time (at least before the time that I’ve been paying attention to politics), we have lost the concept of working for the greater good and working for the people. Career politicians have lost touch with the great majority of the American people. This includes all parties, not just the Republicans or Democrats. Too many times I have heard from politicians “I have this, I can’t take a pay cut.” or “My family needs this, so we need to do that.” not to mention “This group needs this” and millions of dollars are sent off to that politicians state to fund a pet project.
    Where has the leadership gone? I’ll tell you. It has gone to the highest bidder. Anyone can be paid off. It takes a true leader, a true human, to say “No. I will not take the money from you so you can get what you want, because what you want is not for the good of the people, for the good of the country, or the good of the world.” The United States of America is no longer of the people, by the people, for the people as Abraham Lincoln so expertly said. The United States of America has transformed from the people who made the country great, and who still make it great, to the corporations that now run the government. Non entities. Machines. Computer code. That is what is causing this country to run as it is. Not Americans. Not humans. To think otherwise is folly.

    Politicians campaign on transparency all the while putting non-related items into one bill after another. They campaign on creating jobs all the while giving corporations tax breaks and bail outs with no oversight making sure that the money they save or given is used to dig the company out of their debt or to fill empty positions or create new jobs. Instead the corporations take that extra/”new” money and put it into a savings accounts, into bonuses for the execs, and rarely into saving a job or two, let alone adding jobs. Politicians also campaign on balanced budgets, all the while cutting spending that goes towards important services (education, public services, health care) without actually reforming how the money is spent (which will make the programs more efficient, therefore needing less money to perform the same services), and refinancing bills which essentially is “kicking the can down line” to the next budget and not actually solving the issue.

    What politicians don’t campaign on is honesty, compromise, and integrity. There is no one way to do things, as the new Tea Party is so vociferously campaigning on (I have never seen a more immobile group of people). Politicians are not the only culprits. America, in general, has been transforming into a “it’s my way or the highway” mentality for a while. We have ridiculous warning labels on mundane items, we have political correctness, we have to be racially, religiously, economically sensitive because at some point in human history, some group somewhere was persecuted, degraded, enslaved, etc. While it’s important to recognize and embrace history, we have choice to continue living (festering) in it or moving above and beyond. We have a choice to look at history, see how it could fit in the present, and how it will effect the future. If you’re well studied, or even partially studied, on history, you will find that there are different ways to deal with the same situation. To pigeon hole yourself into one way is enslaving yourself to only one idea or concept that will not work in all situations. Life is organic. What worked before may not work now, or what didn’t work then may work now. To be set in your ways is not way to be a leader of the people.

    As much as we say we are diverse melting pot of culture, we are segregated. Politicians have segregated themselves from the people. They have lost touch with what this country stands for. They think they know, but they have had their rose colored glasses on since before they even thought about running for office. We can no longer afford an “us vs. them,” the “haves vs. have-not’s” mentality. The United States, the world, is no longer what it used to be. We live in a world where a butterfly sneezes in one part of the world, a tsunami occurs in the opposite part of the world. Our actions don’t effect only us, but all those around us. The “leaders” in the government have forgotten that. They only see their careers, their reelection, their own small, insignificant lives at the cost to what the United States used to stand for, what humanity should stand for: that is the people who make up human race. Proud, humble, altruistic. That’s something that can’t be written into a bill, or taught in a classroom. It is not the amount of profit made during the last quarter. It is not the numerous military bases around the world. It is not how many years you have been in office, or the dollars in your paycheck. It is something that is taught through true leadership. Leadership that performs duties that are good for the whole and not the individual. Leadership that is absent in today’s government and today’s society.

    • grhgraph says:

      Amy, your analysis is dead-on. For such a young woman, you have an intellectual depth and genuine concern for others that is very surprising. Your Dad would be very proud of you and your ability to contemplate the larger issues of life on the planet. It is nice to know that his sense of wonder and willingness to ask questions has been passed on to you. Keep up the good work and hopefully your generation will do what mine hasn’t yet. I’m still hopeful that in my lifetime the world in general will lose this adolescent mentality of “me first” but so far it’s not looking too good. I’m just happy to know that my writing has meaning for others and I will do my best to keep telling the truth.

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