A story is told that once the passengers of a vessel steaming along the St. Lawrence River were very angry because, in spite of the fact that heavy fog was encircling the boat, full speed ahead was maintained. At last one of them approached the first mate, & complained. "Oh, don't be afraid!" the mate replied with a smile. "The fog lies low, & the captain is high above it, & can see where we are going."
As any military or paramilitary organisation knows, obedience to leadership is imperative to elevate the odds of any safe and successful mission. A man one time told me that he had no problem yielding to authority except when he didn’t agree. Well, that is the point, obedience doesn’t require us to agree. Situated way “above” everybody else, the captain has a perspective unequaled to anyone else's. What obedience requires is not agreement but trust, and trust is something leaders have to cultivate with their subordinates.
As a captain, the person in charge has much more vested in making the right decision than anyone else on the team. He has a higher responsibility. If thing go well, he receives praise; but if anything goes awry, he will be the one whose not only the conscience, but the law and public opinion will blame. Having received more more training and gained more experience, much more is expected of him.
We may not necessarily like the captain. It is good if we do, but we are not required to. What we respect is the uniform and the responsible command it represents.
As a believer in God, I do appreciate that the Captain of my soul sits way up high and that he has a perspective on my life like no-one else’s. Like my earthly “captains,” He receives the praise for the good things in my life and doesn’t shirk from the blame for the things that go wrong. It is the Damocles’ Sword that comes as the price of leadership and obtaining responsibility.
She who was called, “America’s Grandmother” died this week at the young age of 92. Seeing all the articles about Barbara Bush on TV I grew more interested in her life. As First Lady, she seemed to have had very definite opinions about things, but was also wise enough to say that she “just could not make that choice for someone else.” About some of the issues that divide this nation today, she also said that,"... personal things should be left out of, in my opinion, platforms and conventions."
She is known to have fought for literacy in America. As I listened to the many reports about her life and accomplishments, one particular saying of hers attracted my attention. During George W Bush presidency she saw the downward spiraling of the political conversation and said,“I hate the fact that people think 'compromise' is a dirty word.”
Is “compromise” a dirty word? What is a compromise anyways? It is a word coming from the Latin and means, “A Mutual promise”. According to the dictionary, a compromise is: “an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.”; "an ability to listen to two sides in a dispute, and devise a compromise acceptable to both."
This year I have been teaching my class of teenagers about the American Constitution. As I studied it myself, I stumbled into a study of the Constitutional Convention. I read many of the debates, disputations, and argumentation of the people that were present at that history changing convention. At the end, I realised that the American constitution was signed by people who each had to give a little in order to come to an agreement. Like Barbara Bush, they did not believe that “compromise”, or the “ability to listen to two sides in a dispute, and devise a compromise acceptable to both”, was a dirty word.
And neither should we!
Everyday in the news we hear about another leader or social role model falling from grace. Their fall is always due to certain indiscretions, either of a sexual, financial, or ethical nature.
It is true that in any type of group, society, political, or religious movement, leaders are under a greater scrutiny than the rest of the people. It may seem unfair, but it is nevertheless the Damocles’ sword that comes with leadership. Maybe this is what James of the Bible meant as he warned, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”(James 3:1)
Human nature is such that we tend to copy and emulate those leaders we admire. We also tend to scrutinise and oppose those leaders which we despise. In any case, for good or bad, whether we like it or not, they influence us.
Like children, we also tend to follow the actions of a our leaders rather than their good words of advice. We are like the children of whom the parents complained, “No matter how much we try to teach them good manners, they consistently follow our bad sample.”
This should stand as a warning to any of us who operate in leadership. The people who love us, will not only emulate us, but often take our words and sample much further than we would have ever anticipated. I often compare leadership to a whip. Only a tiny movement of the wrist is needed to have it go its full length at the other end. In the same manner, a little off-color remark, a little bending of the rules, a little disrespect can trickle down the ranks and bring down the high standards we have worked so hard to establish. Even the appearance of impropriety is dangerous. The leader’s motto should be, “Others may, but I can’t!”
It isn’t necessary to have a title to be a leader. ? A leader is someone who does everything with “leadership” meaning like everything depends on it, because it does! He shows dedication, integrity, and altruism. He does not count the hour nor the money. In everything he does his motto is, “I may just be a little daisy, but l’ll be the best daisy there ever was!”
No one is an island. We all have influence be it on our spouses, friends, co-workers, children, colleagues, etc … and that makes us all leaders.
THE LAST JEDI, EASTERN PHILOSOPHY, AND TODAY.
In The Last Jedi Kylo Ren tells Luke Skywalker: I'll destroy her. And you. And all of it. Luke Skywalker answers: No. Strike me down in anger and I'll always be with you. Just like your father.
This reminded me of episode V when Luke Skywalker’s saw himself becoming like his father, Darth Vader, as he tried to kill him. While this idea is part of Eastern philosophical concepts such as Hinduism, oh , what basic truth it contains!
Case in point. This week, someone from England sent a letter around calling for “Punish a Muslim Week” on the 3rd of April. The letter was sent to many people in many countries and even made its way to America. Part of the letter was a reward point system for hurtful things done to Muslims or to the Muslim community at large on that day.
When I saw that I thought, “How odd; fundamentalist Muslims themselves teach the idea of heavenly rewards for the killing of certain people, mainly Jews or Americans. It also reminded me about Haman the Persian who decided that on a certain day of the year, all Persians should go and kill their Jewish neighbors.
Like in the Last jedi, hatred and murder, in the spirit of anger and vengeance make us become those we hate and kill. We often see it. In trying to obtain justice and vengeance, someone wronged will often resort to the same actions, thought patterns and philosophy as the one who wronged him. The God who created us knew that, and this is why He teaches us to resist anger, hatred, and hateful murder while leaving Him with the job of avenging us, if not in this age, in the Age to come.
If you appreciate these articles, support their upcoming publication in a book called, "REFLECTIONS OF A FIRE CHAPLAIN"