What is the single most important responsibility of leadership?
Is it decisiveness? Is it vision? Is it communication?
The most important aspect of leadership is group cohesion.
For how can a group be led if the group itself does not wish to stay together?
This is such a baseline expectation of leadership that it is often overlooked as it is simply assumed. But it should not be assumed, especially after this last decade of endless scandal and corruption from our top government officials. For what does it say about a nation’s leadership, if that leadership not only fails to maintain national unity but actively seeks to divide it?
Even at the best of times societal division is massively destabilising, but in times of climate disaster, unprecedented wealth inequality, and a global pandemic, it leads to catastrophe.
Division in a society is created and fueled by hate. This is something that can occur naturally of course, issues of classism, as well as political, religious and racial differences, will always cause friction between groups that do not understand each other, especially if there is a lack of leadership to defuse and unite against that tension.
But what we are experiencing today is something much worse than that.
Our hatred is purposely manufactured by our leadership.
The primordial stew of neo-liberalism and white supremacy has created a leadership class of exclusionary elitists, who have no interest in unifying the country they hold power over.
They are in fact the antithesis of leadership. Their decisions are not based on anything even remotely resembling the common good. Their decisions are fueled by nothing but greed and hate.
And it is tearing our society apart.
So how do we get off this road of division and collapse? How do we unify this country, and build a future through these darkest of times?
Society itself cannot endure for long without compassion because compassion is the very basis of society.
Compassion is why we have society in the first place, compassion is what brings us together, it is how we survived and prospered, together.
Compassion is the heart of all culture and art, community and governance. And we are seeing now exactly what happens when a society abandons its compassion.
We are left with leaders that keep children locked in cages, it is why partisan politicking is prioritised over public health, it is why our police are militarised, it is why the economy is protected before our lives, it is why art funding is gutted.
Without compassion, our society is held together by nothing but fear, propaganda, and violent authoritarianism. It is a society without purpose, goals or future. It is the dead-end of both humanity and history.
But compassion breathes life into society. Compassion gives us purpose and hope.
So what does it mean to have compassion? It is one thing to care for others, but how does that translate into an action of leadership?
What compassion really means is your willingness to help and sacrifice for others without expectation of reward. When we look at it through this lens, our whole perception of society changes, and our understanding of how a society is only as strong as our desire to protect it, becomes clear.
Our leaders love to declare wars on abstract concepts, (usually as nothing more than a pretext to roll out fear and police state measures) that is why we had the war of terror, the war on drugs etc
But what society really needs is a war on selfishness
We live in a society that demands rights without taking on any of the responsibilities of defending them. We demand freedom but refuse the duty of defending it. We scream for liberty but scoff at the idea of accountability.
And at no point do people see the irony or realise that the freedoms they demand must be defended to exist.
Freedom is essential for a healthy society, but so is social responsibility.
Somewhere over the years our perception of freedom became synonymous with doing whatever we want, regardless of consequences.
Look at the things the people screaming about freedom are talking about;
not wearing masks, not using plastic bags, not paying tax to support medicare…
The freedom people are fighting for today is the freedom from responsibility, and with it we forsake the values that really matter.
We have come to accept that selfishness and individualistic privileges are somehow more important than the safety, health and unity of our communities.
The social contract is supposed to work both ways, but that is not the mentality of most western countries today.
Freedom without responsibility to your community is meaningless.
And that responsibility is the foundation we must concentrate on rebuilding. At the community level we need to connect and care for each other again.
We need to re-learn compassion, show it to each other, and teach it to our children.
We must be willing to sacrifice and be responsible to our communities.
We must remember that in times of crisis, it is only through unity that we survive.
And all of that, all of it, requires compassion.
Let this be the rock we build our future on, let compassion unify us again, let it be a value we refuse to compromise on.
If we build this foundation, then no leader will ever be able to steer this nation toward evil and division again.
And our children may know a future that we have only dreamed of.
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