The First Requirement of Leadership
This BreakPoint article poses the question: Does a leader’s private morality have anything to do with his or her public life?
I would answer yes to that question just as Chuck Colson does. A leader leads by example so a person that shows good judgment in his/her private life has the foundation for a position of leadership.
I suspect that the ulterior motive here is the story of the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau as told by Chuck Colson. Mr. Rousseau (according to Colson) publicly suggested that people should have complete loyalty to the state, even above family, church and workplace. The story goes on about his lack of responsibility for the children he fathered.
Coming from a libertarian world view, of course I disagree with Mr. Rousseau’s philosophy that the state is the most important aspect to a person’s life. However I suspect that the intent here is to show how irresponsible Mr. Rousseau was in his personal life so his philosophy must be similar corrupt. Perhaps Mr Colson seeks to imply that because Mr Rousseau’s life did not reveal an admirable private morality, so this philosophy must be wrong, so the church is important to people (counter to that philosophy). If that is the goal, bashing a person’s life does not make a good argument against any philosophy he might have shared with others.
The article concludes with a moving story about George Washington, one of our country’s first leaders. There are certainly many books and articles about our first President, including how he recognized that his actions would set a precedent for all his successors. I can only point out that he was a product of his times. He was influenced by the writers of his day. He also was a slave owner though his views on the matter changed over his life time.
As we look at the leaders in the past, we must recognize the times they lived in. As we evaluate our possible leaders in our time, we look for the values that we consider important.
For example, as our republic has decayed into a democracy beholden to special interests, our potential leaders political now emphasize how a stronger government can address the fears of the populace even as they seek to increase their own power and affluence. A number of religious leaders seek to bring religion into politics, to rid our lives of evil influences through legal actions (like bans on gay marriages, as if gay marriage REALLY has anything to do with divorces among heterosexuals).
We need leaders that can remove the government intrusion into our lives. We need leaders that do not let those that seek laws and rules for moral behavior from ancient manuscripts into influential positions.
Our Founding Fathers attempted to create a framework for a very limited government, that was encumbered by checks and balances to prevent the excesses seen by their government in England. Our American democracy has reached a similar level of corruption and excesses, as those in leadership positions enrich their supporters, lead wars of aggression into foreign lands and now seek to restrict our natural human rights, supposedly needed in a manufactured ‘war on terrorists’ that was the natural result of our inept foreign policies.
We will need new leaders if America will survive this political turmoil. Unfortunately, these inspired leaders must drastically change the political system rather than strengthening it, as has happened in each administration.
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created - Mar 2005
last change - 03/12/2005
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