The People and their Leadership

Time To Heal

It can hardly have gone unnoticed for the majority of us that, in the last few months, there has been a change of leadership – and thereby the policy direction – of countries which have a not insignificant influence on the course of the world. From small island states to a large island and to a (more or less) half continent on the the other side of the Atlantic, and some European States.

The reasons for the change in the political heads of the respective societies are highly diverse in the individual cases, ranging from a regular ending of an official period in office to old age and also to the most important – a failure in the eyes of the sovereign. Often, the stated reason was not the true one but rather a more or less transparent pretext in order to escape the consequences of individual errors. But the sovereign, the people, know this  – and, honestly: how should the pinnacle of the society created by the people be any different from their daily life?!

As the fruit, so the tree.

Wherever one enjoys (although it appears that a decreasing number do so and work, consciously or not, towards its abolition) a democracy (understood in the modern, “western” sense), the question of who in fact deserves what leadership is very complex, dependent on percentages, coalitions and quite general mechanisms which appear to lead the principle of majority voting ad absurdum. However, the complex systemics shall be the topic for another day.

If one considers the personalities, regardless of whether male or female, who strive for leadership positions, a trend is easily recognizable: a move towards authoritarianism, towards the patriarchal.

In the second half of the twentieth century this orientation was, at least in our part of the world and in global regions with a similar culture, not so popular. Perhaps the memories of the repercussions of the great wars and the role which various (mentally and physically not so great) leaders played in the bloodiest dramas of world history were still too fresh.

Perhaps the people were also somewhat ashamed of their predominantly enthusiastic participation in those catastrophes and did more reflect on the aspect of personal responsibility in a democracy, in the rebuilding of societies.

Be that as it may, it is over.

There are a plethora of reasons for this but the bottom line can be easily summarized: if “the people” can no longer – or no longer want to – deal with the demands of their environment in a democratic dialogue, simple (spurious) solutions have to be provided which can be easily implemented without a hindering conscience. And the authoritarian leadership personality suits this perfectly.

Because this is now the case – and we will hardly be prepared to hand over political leadership positions to AI (artificial intelligence) in the near future (although, since AI has been wiping the floor with us primates in the games of “Poker” and “GO”  it may be worth a thought…), one could ask:

How should an “optimized” leadership personality in the 21st century be constituted in order to effectively and responsibly communicate the will of the people, and act accordingly?

The gender of such a person is irrelevant. Also their ethnic origin. In principle, the outward appearance, apart from the appropriate spruceness, should not be decisive. Age is of significance. Too young can be problematic due to the limited life experience in most cases and the risks which a too advanced age carry require no further explanation.

Although these aspects of course heavily depend on the individual case.

Health, above all mental health, should play a considerably greater role than currently appears to be the case. Nowadays it is possible to diagnose too extreme, pathological tendencies in the personality of a person and whoever displays such is to be disqualified from any leadership roles.

They are to be helped lovingly in an appropriate environment. Incidentally, also those of fundamentally religious conviction and fundamental convictions of any kind are also included here.

Concerning physical impairments, only those which do not permit reliable work to be undertaken in a sustainable manner are problematic. Nobody should be excluded because of a handicap or a chronic condition.

On the contrary, individuals who, because of their own situation or that of their family, are familiar with suffering, can in most cases better empathize with the suffering of others. Nobleness of the heart is an absolute prerequisite for the leaders of the future. In order to ascertain this, it is advisable to carefully consider the milieu of the person but also how they express themselves, their gestures and facial expressions but also, of course, the contents of their words.

Without question, proper education in general is also a prerequisite (and an extremely extensive one) but at the very least it must be essential for an aspiring leader to understand the world in its complex entirety or at least have a sincere desire to do so. Whoever does not spend at least one year in a foreign country living within a culture alien to them and, as a minimum does not fluently speak the lingua franca of our time has no place at the helm of a people.

Material independence. Modesty. This has nothing to do with wealth and possessions per se but rather with an inner attitude, with an understanding of values which are not relative but rather absolute. Social values. If someone cannot fully separate the service for and the work with the people from any material benefits before, during and after his/her period in office, they are not worthy of the honour of the office.

The list of qualities which are desired should be expanded, further developed, discussed in detail and then lead to binding verifiable rules. In return, every citizen will receive comprehensive political education from the beginning of his/her educational path and will only have a political vote after an examination in which he/she proves that he/she understands the basic concepts, laws and responsibilities of the democratic system.

Because it is an honour, a task and naturally also a burden to be allowed to participate in the political fate of the world, above all in a leadership position. For this reason, those who feel a calling to this ought to be constituted such that they may be honoured and appreciated by the people who understand who it is putting in this position as its voice, the symbolic and real consolidation of its will.

Such a situation we ought to realize until we have found another, better way to deal with the politics that shape all our lives. Utopian thought? No, necessity.

Translation into English: Anna Stockenhuber


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Time To Heal Time To Heal Sharon Sinclair CC BY 2.0