Sunday, June 29, 2008

Our Infantile Search for Heroic Leaders

Do you find yourself staring at the television and pining for a good leader – a person who will rise and make the world right again? Do you long for a Mandela, a Churchill, a Gandhi? Then grow up. Our political debate – what passes for it – increasingly focuses on a search for an elusive Messianic leader who will show us the way. This is the opposite of rational politics.

This search for leaders is based on a desire to return to childhood – to snuggle into the political cot and close our eyes, knowing daddy is outside watching over us. The highest compliment we pay to a politician is to call him "father of the nation". I feel this urge too. It is difficult and disturbing to try to figure out what is wrong in the world, and how to put it right. How much more tempting to simply snuffle out somebody who you think is good and decent and kind, elect them, and assume they will sort it all out.

But this discourages us from doing the one thing that might actually solve these problems – figuring out solutions for ourselves then going out and campaigning to make them happen. Every civilising advance in history – from workers' rights to women's rights to gay rights – was won because ordinary people banded together and agitated for it. If we had waited for a good leader to hand it down from above, we would still be waiting today.

Johann Hari's brillant analysis explains alot of the current emotional and issue disconnected fervor in politics, and even more about why that fervor is so ineffective in promoting positive improvement. While i dont agree with all of his political analysis, (the guy does live in the uk, where it seems acceptable to ban trees, and license the ability to hug a child) i do agree 100% with the portion posted above.

Obama was right to steal such an apt phrase as "We are the ones we have been waiting for."

Read the rest here, and leave your solutions as a comment below. ;)

1 comment:

Jay21 said...

My solution is to stop looking for leaders and try to become and create them, my solution is advice and practice.