"The Challenge In Leadership Today" (Jan. 2007)
A Crisis of Conscience
Integrity and Hope must replace Fear and Despair at Home and Around the World.
The greatest challenge in leadership today is a ‘Crisis of Conscience’ one of American Integrity and Hope for the Future. We have lost our way as a people and as a nation, in a ‘crisis of conscience.’ We have further failed to inspire and lead other nations in this global war on terrorism. Greed and corruption have overshadowed political life and public policy makers, as rivaling forces of greed have replaced what once was a nation that stood for ‘One Nation Under God, With Liberty and Justice for All.’
So too, American culture has transformed to the leadership examples from the top. Recent university surveys have indicated, ‘university students are the most self centered of all generations of students.’ San Francisco Bay schools have now declared that “homework stands in the way of down time and is unnecessary.” How are we to compete against ourselves, much less the world’s global economy with such examples of present day leadership in the U.S.?
The microcosm of U.S. University and U.S. Public School students can be extrapolated out to national politics and the world stage. Where there should be skilled diplomats, too often there is cronyism. Where there should be a faith and belief in the democratic process, there are distortions of the facts designed by political strategists and pollsters. And where there were once solutions, there are political divisions punctuated with partisan rancor.
Our national ‘crisis of conscience’ was answered by the elections of 2006, with a reminder that the strength of this nation rests with the people whose fate this nation rests. The greatest test of leadership in the U.S. has been and will always be the ability to inspire through vision and ideas. Leadership today has been denigrated in public office with ‘masks of virtue’ and ‘masks of integrity’ designed to mislead the American Public. These masks are among the most dangerous of deceptions, they have darkened the view of public life and they have violated a sacred trust with the people of this country.
As the scandals and convictions of the 109th U.S. Congress revealed to the world, the great American Experiment had lost its way. When the wall came down in Germany, a fractionalized and vulnerable Eastern European Block remained. National identity, economic and social disorder and dislocated alliances were the norm. The former satellites of the USSR and their alliances in the Middle East watched as the United States stumbled as leaders in the world. The United States will always be as strong as our people and the leaders we elect.
As the single remaining super power in the world, the United States has failed to provide ethical leadership that honors the integrity principles found in the U.S. Constitution. Past paradigms of defined alliances and food for oil policies have given way to global economics and the dynamics of terrorism. We as a nation must learn to lead through hope and inspiration, first within our borders, and then, throughout the world.
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