Leading with Compassion

We have seen a drastic shift in the way our culture perceives what is right and proper in how we deal with the people around us. Much of this has to do with how far we’ve strayed from having to struggle against the world simply to exist, the conveniences of life allowing us to wallow in the luxury that is our modern life. It is easy to understand that when there is no goal or objective that we collectively share, we end up splintering into factions because at our core we just need a good fight.

However, it isn’t necessarily a given that human beings must exist in a constant state of conflict. In the end, our compulsion to fight is driven by our primal need to acquire. The particular things we desire aren’t standardized, aside from basic needs like food and shelter, and this makes it difficult to insist that wherever humans happen to be there will be a fight. Despite our biology, we have the capacity to channel that energy into something more positive and bring our society to places that lesser species can never hope to achieve.

It is unfortunate that we live in a time where our leadership has withered away to the point that moral fortitude is no longer relevant. American society used to be based first and foremost on the Judeo-Christian values that have been the best way of creating communities that most people see as being good. While we definitely do not want to have any religion in control of our politics, it is important to realize and accept that much of what made America a great place to be was heavily influenced by what the Christian faith has to offer.

The reality of today is that we just don’t see much of that anymore in the people we put in control of our government. As things have moved more and more back toward a caste system of the powerful versus the people, we see pandering and platitudes rather than people who truly believe in serving others. The philosophy of our republican form of government was designed around putting the needs of the people they represent over our own view of how we think the world should be. Putting others before ourselves is compassion at its very finest, especially when it forces us to give up something we treasure.

I imagine most of us struggle with the idea of those in power today being willing to make a significant sacrifice upon the altar of America. Perhaps a few would be able to put forth a few symbolic gestures, but how many would be truly willing to just sit down and humbly accept the will of the people? No matter how much we wish they would simply do their duty as we think they should, the sad truth is that power corrupts and even the best of us will succumb to it. Most of us can’t seem to avoid the daily vices that bog down our lives; how can we expect people with access to the ability to rule over our lives to give up that control without a fight?

We desperately need this. We need people in charge who don’t want to be there, who are thrust reluctantly into positions of power and abhor the idea of exerting their ideology upon others. People who don’t believe they know better than everyone else and are willing to truly listen to what the people who voted them into office desire. In short, we need people who are compassionate and empathetic enough to believe that they are no better than the people they represent, humble and contrite in their service to those who put them in their hallowed place of power.

Our biggest duty is to our fellow man, be that in the form of family or community or nation. No person can make life work on their own, and everything we do affects someone. Too often we view the world as a vacuum of our own ideas and ambitions, oblivious to the suffering we cause to others as we insist that things be our way. Choosing compassion over arrogance is the best way to propel us forward as a nation, as it has for most of our history.

America didn’t grow to be the amazing country it is today through selfish ambition, though there was plenty of that. It was the carefully cultivated image of the premier good nation of the world that we projected over many decades that brought us the power we have today. If we can return to that place where we put what is right over what convenient, what is good over what is profitable, and what is best for the “little guy” over what puts a few more yachts in our possession, perhaps we can truly make America great again.

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