ArLyne's Diamonds

A running commentary of ideas

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Leaders and Followers

The flying geese have the right idea. Apparently they select a leader based on the task at hand. The goose that knows the route best will be selected to lead them home, and the best nester will teach the others how to build their nests.

Do we do the same? Do we defer to experts? Or, does the need to look good get in the way of deferring to others.

Have we become so “politically correct” that we look for the feet of clay in our great people? Do we demean our heroes instead of worshiping them?

I ask all these questions because of an article I read by New York Times columnist, David Brooks.

Mr. Brooks notes that contemporary monuments of great people, reduce them to ordinariness as opposed to elevating them. He compares the FDR memorial to that of Lincoln and Washington. We look up to the statue of President Abe Lincoln and President George Washington. FDR is seen according to Mr. Brooks as “a kindly grandpa.”  David Brooks goes on to state, “The proposed Eisenhower memorial shifts attention from his moments of power to his moments of innocent boyhood.”

Why? Are we afraid of greatness?

Quoting the same article:

In his memoir, “At Ease,” Eisenhower delivered the following advice: “Always try to associate yourself with and learn as much as you can from those who know more than you do, who do better than you, who see more clearly than you.”

To have good leaders you have to have good followers – able to recognize just authority, admire it, be grateful for it and emulate it. Those skills are required for good monument building too.

This is a pet issue of mine because it personally bothers me when I hear people tear down and gossip negatively about great leaders who are no longer with us.  Although it may be true – or not – I don’t really want to know that someone I admired actually had warts. Sure, none of us are perfect, but let’s look up to people, not down at them.

Looking down may make you think it makes you look better, but it doesn’t.  Only people with self-esteem – true self-esteem – are comfortable looking up.


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