I know I have been absent from this site for about three months, but I thought by taking this hiatus and stepping back from the fray, looking at our world from a distance, would give me deeper insight into the political and ethical mechanisms that run our country and our world. Well, my absence did not do that; rather, I have come to accept the fact that our political system and overall society is indeed incompetent. Believe you me, the situation is even worse than I had thought it to be. I was confident (read as “naive”) that there had to be “more”, something good that our institutions and politicians knew of and we did not, that would justify all of their dawdling, lying, personal moral incursions and avoiding the real issues. The GOP clowns who are running for President along with almost all of our incumbent lawmakers (affiliated with BOTH parties) are no better than the clowns who already hold office. Our congressmen are not fulfilling their job duties and obligations but instead, continue to obstruct solutions to our real problems and turn their attention to preserving their very own political positions.
Before you jump all over me, even President Obama is guilty for some leadership failure. However, given our current unworkable government and its political obstructionism, he keeps on trying to alter the landscape. I still honor his abilities and standards. However, perhaps the Office of the President is not going to be the venue for him to maximize change. Maybe he will find another avenue to actually implement his vision. Unfortunately, the Presidency is not that pathway. Mind you, this is not an excuse for all of the compromises he has had to make. Our divided country is deeply divided on ideological terms, political policy and its social agenda.
From our halls of government, corporate board rooms, religious synods, university sports programs and the personal morality of each and every American, we are experiencing a failure in leadership. Steven Pearlstein writes today about this vast, widespread plague of ignoring justice, honesty and personal morality. An infection of equal importance is when the individual himself is innocent of any wrongdoing, for not stepping up to the plate and calling the legal or ethical issue into question, better known as the “bystander syndrome”. Please, please read Pearlstein’s article, as it is a great synopsis of institutional failure.
More important, all of these failures that Pearlstein writes, occurred just last week. Mind boggling. The greater failure is on the individual basis. My theory is that all of these failures of decent, humane and legal behaviors start with the individual. I have always maintained that an ethical, productive society starts right at home. Thus, you often read on this site about raising our children with a firm ethical hand, teaching them, with absolute tunnel-vision and setting the example, that there will be consequences for their actions. Pearlstein doesn’t emphasize the fundamental role of the individual in this wider, global leadership failure.
The ongoing ugly, illegal, immoral paths that governments, corporations and religions partake all start with one person. The various people in The Penn State debacle who have been punished for their actions are not only the perpetrators of wrong acts; most of them, like Mr. Paterno, the university President, etc., were witnesses, not the actual perpetrator. This is called the “bystander syndrome” and is a very real phenomenon. The watchers, like the people of Germany and really the entire world during Hitler’s reign, are just as guilty as the people who actually committed the atrocities.
The worst part of this global leadership failure is that we accept it mainly because it is so prevalent. Thus, the perpetrators, driven by their need for power and personal lucre, continue their atrocious behaviors because —– yes, indeedy —– they are getting away with it. Their violations of any legal and personal code of ethics is the accepted state of affairs.
I remain amazed by the GOP presidential candidates because they are displaying an enormous vacuum regarding their political, historical and economic intellect, turning instead to half-remembered facts, lots of misinformation and boning up on the political ropes of a campaign instead of opening the books on history, economics and international relations. However, Bill Maher’s take on this week’s happenings will not only reinforce their dull abilities and clownish antics, but shall be one of the funniest back-and-forth in the world of politics. It has to do with candidate Herman Cain. Cain announced today that “God wants him to be President.” In return, Bill Maher commented relevantly. But this is one of the funniest lines I ever heard. After informing us today of Cain’s special relationship with God, Maher pipes up (and I paraphrase):
“Since God advised Cain to run, he must be fucking over the other Republican presidential candidates who have also claimed that God was their advisor.”
Oh no! Do we have another failure here? And if so, has God messed up? Is He lying? Is He a fickle God, subject to all the temptations out there, kind of like the forces affecting those that rule? Oh well. If God is such a damaged force, if He can commit such hypocrisy, well then, why can’t the rest of us follow his lead? Citing God as the ultimate decider is one big excuse for not fulfilling accepted standards of behavior.
So no: my three-month vacation from all of this nonsense backfired. Things ARE exactly as they seem. However, my fire has been rekindled. Go for it, Occupy Wall Street. Throw everything you’ve got at ’em, Elizabeth Warren. Jam up the phone lines of your Congressmen and continue to let them know that they will not get your vote if they back illegal and unethical behavior. Boycott those enterprises that are thieves. Ma and Pop Jones, please stay active in your local schools.
Above all, teach your children well the morality that will result in a safer, saner and viable world. For Heaven’s sake, sit down to a family dinner every single evening and discuss the larger implications of your day’s events in relation to world events. Do not answer the telephone during those meals and turn off the damn television. We can complain that events have a life of their own and that we really have no influence over those events. Wrong. Each and every one of us has the responsibility to alter our world, starting with our children right at home. If we do not take advantage of that control in our own homes, then yes, we are doomed. Mostly, children learn by example. Set the right example for them. Forgo the new, large-screen TV or a bigger house. Instead sock away that money into a college fund for your kids.
Failure of leadership is a reality. It doesn’t have to be so in your own home. Break the current, static mold of legal and ethical deficiency. Hammer home, often and consistently, the role of personal responsibility. Then, watch how the “good stuff” becomes internalized into your child’s world. Hopefully, desperately, the next generation can provide the world with a new mindset, a new path of transformation, a world where it is a real shame, a failure, to conduct and condone wrongful behavior.
Imagine a world where legality, social justice, honest economic rewards and individual responsibility ruled the roost. Just suppose that leading a moral and productive life came back into vogue. What a world it would be if we practiced what we preached. It would be so self-reinforcing to strive for the good. I’m in; are you?