Just and Moral Part II
Say, you’ve been fairly elected to lead people. What do the people expect of you? What should you expect of yourself? What if politics is not a big business? What if there was one among us who stepped forward and truly presented her or himself as a public servant? Is it possible? Is it plausible? As I wrote before, this is my version and I hold no one accountable to this. It is my ideal of the individual who is committed to the noblest pursuit of leadership, driven by the just and moral way. What do they possess?
The capacity to confess- Even with the best of intentions and the greatest minds surrounding her/him, the just and moral leader will not act with perfect judgment and will fall short in some way or another. Plausible deniability is not part of the just and moral leader's modus operandi. The willingness to accept responsibility for one's actions and accountability to others is essential for the leader's faithfulness to justice and morality. Furthermore, holding everyone else accountable is essential. There is no room for tolerating the malfeasance of appointees. The just and moral leader is to be a steward of resources for the best possible service to the community. Personal gain by anyone appointed by the leader at the expense of the public trust diminishes the leader’s effectiveness. Imperfect judgment, miscalculation and poor execution will occur. Public servants have a right to admit mistakes, poor judgment and bad implementation. The public should debate the severity of the leader’s mistakes and determine the punishment- re-election or not. Perhaps the best leader is the one who realizes when it is time NOT to lead and steps down?
A just and moral leader's deepest sense of commitment is to near selfless service to others- I can't say total selflessness because I think the leader's own fulfillment from service to others is a helpful way to prevent overzealous martyrdom (I'm only half joking about this). I don't know what else to say about this. For me, it's as if a true leader's reason for being has to do more with others' well being than his/her own. There is a serenity in that person's way of living that allows for their daily focus to be on the benefit of the public. Constant attention to the needs of others with a capacity to ask hard questions about the possible solutions. "Whom does this help?" "Whom does this harm?" "What are the alternative solutions?" "How can we best implement a solution to offer the best results for the public good?" There is no room for "What's in it for me?"
Truth- Gandhi said "Truth is god" and he was very intentional about saying "Truth is God" and not "God is Truth." A subtle but important distinction. Seeking justice means a relentless commitment to the truth. For the just and moral leader, it means a commitment to doing more or less as needed (or nothing in some cases) to better serve people upon the discovery that his/her way is inefficient, deficient, ineffective or harmful. This is a moral imperative when the harm is to the most vulnerable members of society (children, the poor, the marginalized).
War- The just and moral leader rejects war and the use of violence. There are so many conflicts in our nation and abroad and I am troubled that, without hesitation, we appeal to a military or police solution as the one and only way to address conflicts. I can think of no situation where the use of the military can be the sole means to produce a just and sustainable outcome and yet we almost always send in troops to combat whatever ill we perceive. I wonder how many citizens are aware of the process of “conflict transformation.” Sometimes we hear the phrase “conflict resolution” but that suggests that conflicts can always be resolved. As naïve as the rest of my thoughts may be, I’ll put forth that many conflicts cannot be resolved but perhaps they can be transformed. That’s a practice that includes dialogue, training, role-play, truth-telling, story-telling, etc. and could be better explained by others far more qualified. South Africa’s and East Timor’s Truth and Reconciliation committees and Rwanda’s restorative justice process known as “gacaca” offer some insight to these practices. Back to the question of war and violence, why is it that we can’t recruit the best minds, that of peacemakers, regardless of nationality, to come together and offer plans, strategies and accords that include the input, concerns and needs of every stakeholder in a conflict? I don’t want to put every Nobel laureate on a pedestal and call them infallible but there are people who have shown that non-violent resistance to oppression can work. If we can find ways to empower and protect those who are oppressed in areas of conflict, I want to believe that we can do so in such a way that the first viewable signs of our involvement are NOT camouflage outfits, loaded guns, helicopters, tanks, drones and explosions or, in the case of a local conflict, badges, batons, taser guns and riot gear.
So there you have it. It's a "rough draft" with very little organization. The list is very random but, as I said, it's what came to mind as I wrote. I realize that anyone reading this would suggest this is impossible and that anyone subscribing to this would not succeed in politics. It's naive, unpopular and most would laugh at my foolish notions. However, these thoughts keep me grounded and connected with an inner peacefulness. I want to keep believing that they are possible and that, foolish as I might be to the outside world, I think we can be happier people.
AUTHOR: Thomas Conner
Thomas Conner is the co-founder, president and chief financial officer of Sitemason, a hosted, supported alternative to Wordpress and Drupal, built for agencies, freelance designers and developers.