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Where Have All The Leaders Gone?
Where Have All the Leaders Gone?

Great Leader seems always to be first defined as what we don’t have at the moment. Descriptions include decisiveness, courage and a fervent wish to serve the definers particular ethnic or economic group. And because everyone wants someone who believes in the same truth they believe, getting at what constitutes true leadership requires some study. I got caught up in this endless circle recently with a couple of friends. Reaching no consensus with them, I decided to do a reality check with Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, one time Roman Emperor.“Begin the morning by saying to yourself, I shall meet with the busybody, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial,” Marcus Aurelius said, getting quickly to the point. “All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil.""Yes sir," I said, wanting to steer the conversation closer to the subject, "but how do you exercise rational judgment when confronted with such types?"He paused and shook his head before continuing, "We are made for cooperation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away.” Nodding my thanks I slipped away to a room without CNN, NPR or Fox and pondered.  I was most surprised by both the absence of arrogance in Marcus Aurelius and his very visible humility.It’s a different world today, my friends explain, giving me the look that wonders if I just got off the bus.  Different, yes, but how?  Marcus Aurelius was emperor of Rome when Rome ruled the known world. That’s a lot to look after. Bigger than Pakistan, meaner than Iraq.  Other than our substantial technological advances the world he dealt with was a lot like our world today. Threats abounded. Fundamental economic and social changes were in the making. Character mattered. Courage mattered. Flexibility mattered. Where are the leaders today who possess the character traits history has always demanded of its best? The mistake will be settling for someone because they’re an improvement over what we have now. That’s not good enough. The bar is set so low we need a quantum jump in quality. If we’re very lucky in the next few months, we’ll begin to sense some potential greatness lurking in one of the American political parties. Maybe lucky is the wrong word. We are a nation governed by its people, after all. Maybe we need to make our own luck. (Special thanks to Marcus Aurelius for his MEDITATIONS.)

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Where Have All the Red Room Bloggers Gone?


After I read your insightful analysis on a topic of such importance ["It is portentous and a thing of state"] and then, in astonishment, noted  that not one comment during some TWO YEARS was posted below it, my first reaction was another question, "Where have all the Red Room bloggers gone?"

Perhaps the answer to the latter question is "to their pursuit of and absorption in  their own self-interests such as writing their own blogs, apparently leaving them little or no time, energy and inclination to comment here. In an alternative explanation,  perhaps the best "face" one can put on this puzzling phenomenon of silence is that your definitive analysis of missing leadership made any further comment superfluous.

Be that benign rationale as it may, silence, though rarely if ever a virtue when the future of our way of life is at stake, may actutally be one of the modern trends responsible for the leadership "gap".  One recalls the old aphorism, "For evil to prevail, all that's required is for good people to do nothing," and silence is obviously one disturbing manifestation of this truth. To the extent that people start speaking up and making their presence known (as you have done in this blog), from OWS to T-Party rallies, we are at least starting to wake up from our lethargy and self-absorption, wouldn't you say?

From another perspective to the issue you pose, perhaps we are getting exactly the leadership we deserve. In this cynical analysis, we are a fickle, easily seduced electorate, often given to assessing potential leaders on superficial criteria such as  (1) their media "savviness" and resulting charismatic image created in our minds and (2) how sycophantically they pander to our narrow self-interests  at THIS MOMENT and promise us "the moon" at the expense of the well-being of the larger national interests over the LONG TERM.  Otherwise, how could our esteemed politicians have so incompetently brought us to record debt levels while deluding us to believe we were on the way to the "promised land?" 

 Nor, after one gets an unfiltered view of urban public schools from revelations in documentaries like WAITING FOR SUPERMAN, is it likely the typical voters selecting our political leaders will be drawing upon the wisdom of Marcus Aurelius to guide them in their thinking, especially when the politically correct curriculum in some schools can't even get beyond  Thomas Jefferson's personal life to an understanding of his remarkable contributions of ideas and service as one of our most intellectually accomplished  and dedicated Founding Fathers.  With the fallen state of politics today, Jefferson wouldn't be able to "survive" unscathed on the editorial page  and in a TV debate or primary election. [For expanded thoughts on Jefferson and education, see my separate blogs, "Jefferson--Patriot and Renaissance Man" and "Don't Hold Your Breath for Superman's Rescue"]

Now that I've figuratively thrown down the gauntlet in this challenge, perhaps other Red Room members will respond in comments here setting forth their answers/explanations to your most timely question, "Where have all the leaders gone?"  If not, then this lack of response will further confirm my admittedly cynical analysis above.