Sometimes I write to communicate ideas that I think others will find useful, and sometimes just to make myself feel better. You’re free to decide into which category today’s offering falls.
This blog is still not about politics, regardless of recent evidence to the contrary. However, issues such as personal liberty, social justice, national security, health care, public policy, and national pride are important to me, and one only needs to open a paper or visit a news website to see that each of these issues, and many more, are in play.
I have a strong, innate need to believe in the trustworthiness of authority figures. I haven’t found many that have withstood the test of time and critical analysis, but hope springs eternal. Perhaps I set the bar too high; perhaps I don’t REALLY want to find any authority trustworthy, because that would require me to give up too much autonomy and self-determination (both diminishing resources in my life). Modern life is uncertain, and that situation is not likely to improve on this side of Eternity. I can live with uncertainty – in my view, those that are the most certain about their world view have the farthest to fall. The ability to admit, “I don’t know” is not only intellectually honest, it’s a survival characteristic in the modern world. Absolute certainty isn’t necessary, and I think it’s harmful in many cases. The best leaders are plagued by uncertainty, although they usually don’t overtly display it. They are guided by their convictions, but are not slaves to them. They trust their moral compass, but still seek feedback. They have a vision for the future, but can adjust their path and respond to obstacles effectively.
I have to admit that I had hope for the new administration. I was not a proponent of either of the leading candidates for president, and I think that, as a nation, we abdicated our responsibility to put the greater good first. My hope is fading. It’s not completely gone yet, but after nearly 50 days of inexplicable behavior and poor stewardship, it’s lost a lot of weight.
My disquiet isn’t even over some of the policy decisions that are coming out of Washington, such as they are. I think it’s foolish to believe that isolationism is a solution to our foreign policy problems, but it has the benefit of not having been tried for a while. I think that building a physical wall at the border ignores the real issues associated with border control and immigration policy, but I don’t think that it’s misguided to do a better job of enforcing existing law and restricting illegal immigration. I think that hard work and innovation should result in personal benefit, but I do agree that an enlightened society takes care of its disadvantaged members. I believe that equal opportunity and equal access are hallmarks of freedom, but equal results are not; human nature and statistics show us that. I believe that bullies, either the individual or the national kind, are deterred by strength and demonstrated resolve, and not by appeasement.
However, I also believe that character is important, that truthfulness and sincerity are essential leadership qualities, that self-control and sanguinity are valuable personal characteristics, and that leaders persuade more than they direct. I’m concerned that our chief executive is demonstrating that he has none of these important characteristics after having been in office for almost two months. The man is seventy years old – he’s not likely to have a sudden epiphany. He is more (and less) than just a rough, crass, tactless political outsider who will “shake things up.” His administration is in free-fall, and requires leadership and vision that I am sorely afraid he doesn’t have.
Nero fiddled while Rome burned. It’s fortunate that Nero didn’t have access to Twitter, or the entire world might have gone up in flames. There is still time, but there is no time to lose – the leader of the free world needs to step up. Stop tweeting and start leading, or get out of the way.