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