By Peter Worman
What we heard last week were the qualities that a true leader should possess, to wit, he is just, sound-minded, and wise combined with courage.
There are plenty of people today who are called leaders and although they put on a good show, often turn out to be reckless, unjust, arrogant and devoid of intelligence. We need look no further to the leaders in the Ukraine/ Russia conflict. The strange thing is that the world often reveres these gung-ho leaders.
To begin with let us acknowledge some of the good leaders we have today and some that come to mind are the Dalai Lama, Queen Elizabeth and the prophets we still read about today. Let us also not forget the leaders we ourselves have come across in our lives so far.
It would be good if we considered why we revere some leaders and not others. One reason might be that the inspired leader always looks, above all else, to the very greatest excellence and goodness. It needs to be mentioned at this point that there are two goods, human and divine and the former depends on the latter and if we acquire the latter, we also acquire the former but nor visa-versa. Hence the advice from the Gospels that we should seek first the kingdom of heaven and all else will be added to us.
One of the more serious problems we have these days is that there is very little punishment of poor behaviour and reward for good behaviour and what we often see is a perversion of this where the innocent is punished and the wicked are rewarded. We also see a lot of effort into the developing of the physical side of things, that teaches us endurance and the ability to withstand pain, but we rarely see a similar effort into curbing the excesses of the mind and seeking ways to develop our innate sense of reason or develop our sense of compassion by practicing forgiveness. The aim of these latter disciplines is the final pursuit of wisdom.
It thus becomes clear that what is needed to harmonise our lives is to practice bravery in physical battle as well as practicing restraint in the face of physical pleasures. It’s all very well being courageous in the physical battles, but we also need to come to an understanding of the internal battles that continually rage in the minds of men and women. Remember that external strife is always preceded by internal strife. If we haven’t developed a system of effective observation of the mind, that would lead to an understanding of this inner strife we will forever be wracked by turmoil and will never attain happiness and contentment.
One of the immediate advantages of right thinking would be a gradual curtailment of unnecessary desires that draw us either to the past or the future and we thus miss the present moment. We might think it’s fabulous being rich beyond all measure but question the person in that position and we’d find that happiness is elusive just as a poor person may be blissfully happy. All true traditions exhort us not to lay up our treasure on earth, where they can be stolen and can deteriorate. A true leader knows the benefits of restraint and paying attention and serves those under him as if they were his beloved children and he certainly wouldn’t be tempted by promises of unearned wealth.
Next week we’ll look at laws that may be enacted to bring out the best in those who follow them. Note that a father of a household is just as important as a president of country and like the president the father also needs to set boundaries (laws) for his family which will lead a family/country to success and peace and not lawlessness and outrage.