“There is,” said an Italian philosopher, “nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”
When the world needs inspiration, courage, integrity and resolve, we are dished up leaders like Trump, Boris and ScoMo – a bunch of buffoons completely unworthy of the title ‘leader’.
I recently read a speech from a leader that I consider truly inspirational, parts of which I would like to share with you, where he outlined in general terms the dangers we face.
“First is the danger of futility; the belief there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills – against misery, against ignorance, or injustice and violence.
Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
The second danger is that of expediency; of those who say that hopes and beliefs must bend before immediate necessities.
…. idealism, high aspiration and deep convictions are not incompatible with the most practical and efficient of programs – there is no basic inconsistency between ideals and realistic possibilities – no separation between the deepest desires of heart and of mind and the rational application of human effort to human problems.
A third danger is timidity. Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change the world which yields most painfully to change.
For the fortunate amongst us, the fourth danger is comfort; the temptation to follow the easy and familiar path of personal ambition and financial success so grandly spread before those who have the privilege of an education.”
These words resonated with me, eloquently articulating my despair and frustration with our current leadership. They were spoken by Robert Kennedy at the University of Capetown, South Africa, in 1966.
This is the same man who reminded us a couple of years later at the University of Kansas:
“the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.
It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”
Less than three months later, he was assassinated.
Did courage and inspiration die with him?
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