My place. Wednesday, 10am
Can you imagine a world where people look up to their leaders?
What a world that would be: Leaders inspiring people with actions based on the common good.
Sure, it’s a fantasy, more Marvel Studios than Parliament House, but I believe this is what leaders originally did. From the dawn of Homo sapiens, approximately 300,000 years ago, leaders led by putting the wellbeing of the tribe ahead of their own. No leader worth his salted meat would knowingly put the tribe in danger. Leaders became leaders because they had certain qualities – virtue and bravery being the most obvious.
Where is virtue now? Where is governmental behaviour displaying high moral standards? Certainly not on Manus or Nauru; certainly not in the treatment of the Indigenous people; definitely not in its disregard of climate change.
Can you believe that people once regarded their leaders as role models?
Ha. This thought has me grinning in my coffee. Senator Leyonhjelm as a role model?
Honesty, decency and vision were the hallmarks of a leader. These were the moral bouys which lifted the leader from the pack; these were the identifying traits of leadership.
Not anymore. We may call them leaders. They may call themselves leaders. They are in positions of power – thanks to an ailing democracy usurped by a two-party system and poisoned by corporate interest – but they’re not leaders.
Honesty, decency and vision. Zero out of three for the majority of our national and state leadership. (I don’t include local government in these generalisations about government because local government still has some contact with reality.)
Just when the world is in dire need of farsightedness and prudence, it is served up parochiality and recklessness by actors whose primary objective is enhancement of their own position in a toxic little power game that attracts small-minded men (mostly), noosed and suited, who are clever but not wise, and whose legacy is ruination not wellbeing.
Politicians these days cannot even speak the common language. They are so divorced from the actualities of the world that they can’t do communication. They assume a certain tone, a furrowed brow, and adopt what they perceive to be a look of sincerity, but you can be blind and deaf and still not miss the cynical artifice that betrays the politicians’ pretence. They themselves cannot hear the fraud in their talk, but to others it’s as obvious as a Nigerian email, as conspicuous as a fire alarm.
Leadership depends on trust. People trust that the vision of their leaders is in their interest; is a benefit to society. Leaders trust the people will allow them the time and facility to pursue that vision and demonstrate its benefit.
But who in the driver’s seat of the careering Australian bus can you trust? The prime minister, who is as rubbery as play dough? The opposition who is the same but with a different tie colour? The professional misogynists who play the system to gain unearned entitlement, and whose actions are printed from a corporate template of last century – a template that has taken us to the very brink of ruin?
There is no trust. So what now? What do we do?
We are slowly removing ourselves from an unwell world – where pretend leaders cackle and smirk and look the other way while rivers run dirty, knowledge is spurned, justice is miscarried, and leadership (real leadership) is jailed – and we’re migrating through a screen to a better world, like Alice down the cyber hole, where the music is unlimited, the rivers are clean and filled with new 4WDs, and the leaders, though masked and costumed, are brave and decent and saving the world.