Monday, January 10, 2011

The Costs of Leadership

This past week has been a horrific one for the nation. Democratic Representative to the US Congress from Arizona, Gabrielle Giffords, was shot in the head. 

According to news reports, Ms. Giffords had taken strong stands on certain positions, particularly health care and immigration laws, that many disagreed with.  And one person disagreed with her to such a degree that he decided to murder her.  He did not succeed as of the time of the writing.  But a a federal judge and five other people were killed, including a 9-year-old girl, Christina Green; 12 others were wounded.

I'm sure the suspect--who will now in the careful words of the law become the "alleged" offender, although he was wrestled to the ground while trying to reload his automatic weapon--will be discovered to be insane or some other such thing which will excuse his inexcusable actions. I say:  he may be found to be insane or with diminished capacities, but he was only acting out the ever-present human desire to murder in one way or another those who step up to leadership roles and who especially will not compromise their essential principles in their work.

We pretty systematically kill those who will not compromise, although it is not always by physical murder.  Those non-compromising ones tend to stand out from the crowd, making easy targets for those in deep disagreement with them.  Those in opposition often feel powerless, afraid, unable to make their voices heard.  Someone who stands out from the crowd by standing firm upon their principles tends to expose the moral ambiguities of their opponents.  Instead of looking hard at our own inconsistencies, it is much easier just to kill the leader, convincing ourselves that this is a gift to all humanity.

It is much, much easier to go along to get along.  That is how many hold onto their leadership positions.  They find out whole holds the real but often hidden power, shave away at their own moral and ethical foundations in order to seduce and keep happy the ones who have money, who have influence, and who pull lots of strings.  The seduction of power encourages many to hold onto their positions by keeping their heads down and everyone else happy.  Those who do that also lose their souls in the process, but that loss tends to stay hidden until the stench of those rotting souls becomes too much to bear, and the decay begins to pour out.

This pattern is seen on every level of leadership, from grade school class elections to the highest reaches of power, be it political, religious, athletic, artistic, or any other venue.  Any of us who step up to any leadership position will face the issue:  stand firm with what we know to be true and risk being shot down, or crucified as the case may be, or compromise the essentials of the soul, and die a slow, lingering death.  

I ache for anyone who is willing to lay him or herself on the line for any leadership post of any kind.  Such ones will be meticulously examined, exposed, critiqued, chastised, hounded, tempted, buffeted, and wounded.  Those with already corrupt souls will find great breeding ground to nurture that corruption.  Those who stand on unpopular but well-reasoned beliefs, especially when they are different from the masses, will most likely find themselves facing a gun to their heads at some time.  

May we find some meaning in our mourning, and some hope of grace in this tragedy.

1 comment:

Angie Hammond said...

Unfortunately you are correct with your statement about the human desire to murder in one way or another those who step up to leadership roles.
Especially those who will not compromise their essential principles in their work.

One hope inside all of this darkness we've seen this past week. Even in all of this, God will find a way to use it for his glory. Christ said to those who would follow him. Take up your cross and follow me.

I pray for all those who choose life and the cross.