Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2012.10.24 Who Is a Leader?

I did not watch Monday’s presidential debate.  We turned it on and immediately the thrust and parry began, the fencing match that political leadership has become.  Each flick of the saber knicked my soul.

Each candidate had something offensive or defensive to say—right away. It’s not that you couldn’t pick out a few points or identify an issue, but the energy of warrior prevailed.

Instead we turned it off and shed some tears remembering the recent death of a great statesman George McGovern, a man of warmth, intellectual clarity, and dignity. 

Frankly, I don’t want America to be the strongest nation in the world. Honestly, I don’t care if we are second or third or last.  I’d rather see us begin to pay it forward, to give more than we expect to get, to appreciate more than we want to be appreciated, to give applause not expect it, to be less rather than more exceptional, and to give more thanks than we get—way more.  And I wouldn’t mind some spoken reverence for a power greater than human, more compassionate than human, and with better bigger, broader eyes! 

Images of JFK confronting the Russian superpower about setting up lethal missiles in our back yard (Cuba) came to mind. We watched an excellent PBS video on the details of that terrifying time.  Our president went against all his advisors and made a deal with Kruschev which they both held between them and which worked for both men and both nations to save peace and more importantly to keep the world alive!

When you can actually imagine, envision up close the end of the world, not on a sandwich board shouldered by a delusional prophet, then true fear can drive you into sanity, a greater power than the power of might or winning.  That is what happened to both world leaders. Fear drove them sane not mad— and it drove them together.

Fifty years ago I was riveted watching President Kennedy on national TV, simply stating a boundary and saying no to the hostile plan of encroachment and threat and yes to the vision of peace for all together.  He was a leader who served humanity as a DOVE! When someone speaks like that you listen, and you feel respected, too.

When my dad called me “Lynda” (my given name) I listened. It didn’t just happen when I was caught sneaking out to meet my teenage boyfriend whom I later married. It happened when I told him I wanted to be a priest and started to blather about why as if I had to justify my vocation. He  said, “I get it Lynda.” 

Who of these two presidential contenders in 2012 would I want to stand firm on my behalf, on my country’s behalf,  about anything, not just missiles? 

I would want Barack Obama because I think he has the gravitas and the language skills necessary to restore true statesmanship—oratory not single-issue rhetoric—to the office. He is a leader who can compromise to serve peace. He also can wait.

Romney is competent, skilled, and impatient. I’d be afraid he’d smirk.