Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Leader Less

In his latest State of the Union message to the nation, George Bush laid out his definition of what leadership is all about: be bold, uncompromising, relentless, tough, and aggressive. These terms have been consistent throughout his tenure and, in many ways, are not that different from many of his predecessors.

Yet, while Mr. Bush insists that this definition of leadership will make the US and the world stronger and safer, the opposite seems to be true. Acts of terrorism are on the rise, not the decline. The cost of living for average citizens keeps increasing, while wages and benefits remain stagnant or decrease. The continued damage and dregadation of the planet shows no signs of slowing down.

Might there be a different sort of leadership that would lead this nation and world in a different direction? Can we imagine leaders who would work to minimize or end warfare, halt planetary destruction, and try to lift the fate of all boats at once?

The Taoist sage Lao Tzu offers a vastly different perspective on what it takes to be a great leader.
Verse 66
Why is the sea king of a hundred streams?
Because it lies below them.
Therefore it is the king of a hundred streams.

If the sage would guide the people, he must serve with humility.
If he would lead them, he must follow behind.
In this way when the sage rules, the people will not feel oppressed;
When he stands before them, they will not be harmed.
The whole world will support him and will not tire of him.

Because he does not compete,
He does not meet competition.
As with other aspects of Taoism, the US President could accomplish far more by doing far less.


  1. I'd love to see GWB trying to get his head around that.

    PS, the half naked thursday thing is explained further here.

  2. Nice, Trey. This really fits in with my comments to your non-violence post.

    What we need is nothing short of a paradigm shift in this country. Yet, apparently, enough people believe that the current paradigm is either copacetic or that we're powerless to do anything about it, and as long as that's the case, sadly, nothing will change.

    Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun wrote a book years ago called Surplus Powerlessness that examines this insistence that we are powerless, even though Margaret Mead was SO right when she said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

    Anyway, I'll plug Tikkun one more time, and point to a new movement their building, the Network of Spiritual Progressives. Their Core Vision looks like a pretty good start on a new paradigm to me.


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