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Isn't it pretty?

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Leadership

We spoke about leadership in my class last night. I wasn't feeling very well so I didn't chime in as much as I usually do, but as has become the habit, my class disagrees with most of what I believe. You can blame me for being an idealist. Here is what I came home and wrote: When I look at the great Jewish leaders throughout history, there are leaders that people respected and listened to and followed. The leaders whose opinions and advice has endured throughout the years are distinguished by having sterling characters. Most of these leaders did not seek out leadership; they were pushed into their positions by virtue of the qualities that they possessed. They were admired for their integrity, piety, dignity and the respect that they showed others. Moses was the ultimate example of this. Moses did not want to be the leader of the Jewish people; he pleaded with God to be kept out of the limelight. Moses was known as the most humble person who ever lived. However, this humility did not mean that he was unable to utilize the gifts that God gave him for the benefit of other people. Because he recognized that the attributes that allowed him to lead his people were a gift from God, he did not feel he was above the rules that applied to everyone else. In contrast, Moses was held to an even higher standard than everyone else and even minor mistakes that he made were punished very harshly. It is said that attitude is a reflection of leadership. If a leader lies and cheats and steals, the attitude of that leader’s nation will be one of moral decay. But if a leader treats each person with respect and decency and makes his decisions with uprightness, then the attitude of his followers will be a reflection of those ideals. Does it matter what leaders do in their private lives as opposed to their public lives? Only in that it is very hard to hide what is at the core, and if the core (private life) is rotten then the rest of the fruit (the public life) will not follow far behind. In contrast, I also believe that the more you practice doing the right or good thing, the more it becomes a part of you and you end up becoming that good thing. Do the ends justify any means? I don’t think so. I think a lot of times the path you take to get somewhere is more important than where you actually end up. The lessons learned along the way can be of greater value than the final reward. If you choose to take a path of integrity and respect for others, it can sometimes lead you far astray of where you initially are headed. But even if you don’t end up at your original destination, you may find that you have profited much more than if you had followed the direct route. So, I guess what I am saying is, first of all, I don’t agree with Machiavelli on much (I’m sure that is not much of a shock). But second, I think we should look more to the leaders who are in their positions because of their merits and deeds, rather than those leaders that have campaigned to be on top. The former might be hard to find, but I think we will learn a lot more from them and ultimately, they will inspire us to be better people.

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