A Nation in Search of Leadership

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A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done,
his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.
~Lao Tzu~

As we move toward major party conventions, the leading candidate on one side represents the establishment which has accomplished little other than to remain established. The other leading candidate mimics the anger of the populace about being disenfranchised by the establishment although he is himself well franchised. Neither shows any real sign of leadership toward a more harmonious world.

Unfortunately we have devolved into a society where the powerful rule and concentrate their efforts on maintaining their control of our national wealth and resources. At the other extreme many people have become focused on their own desires without concern about the effect on others. We have lost a sense of consensus we may have had once along the way. Neither candidate has suggested a clear path to supporting the well-being of the nation and its citizens as a whole although platitudes abound on both sides.

Our country was founded on the principles of freedom from persecution, especially for religious beliefs, equality of all people, and forming a democratic republic to ensure individual rights. Unfortunately, “all people” was not quite inclusive right from the beginning, particularly of Native American and people of color. It did not entirely extend to women either.

Throughout our history, we have struggled to maintain these rights and to make them more inclusive of those originally excluded. Although we have made progress in this area, we still have a ways to go. We need to be able to hear each other’s needs, desires, pain and frustration. Then we need to find ways to work together and balance our needs with those of others. Various groups and individuals have made efforts in this direction but none has taken hold consistently in the general populace.

Based on the current offerings of the major parties, we seem to have a choice between business as usual which has kindled widespread dissatisfaction and anger or giving vent to our frustration by joining in the campaign rants. Neither will bring about any meaningful change in how our society conducts itself or lead to greater satisfaction with our collective lot.

The third choice is to start caring for each other by listening to one another and taking appropriate action. Waiting for a leader to emerge with these values is not likely to produce one without our concerted effort. The reason we have the candidates we do is because we voted for them, regardless of what made us do so. The only way to change this is to come together in our common interest and elect someone who shares these values. Are you ready?

Life Lab Lessons

  • Open your ears to the voices of those who agree with you and of those who disagree.
  • Look for issues on which you can agree and express that agreement.
  • Listen to how people feel rather than to the words they use.
  • Find ways to connect with their feelings.
  • Try thinking of mutually agreeable solutions.

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