With all the incessant and unrelenting talk addressing the upheavals of our time, one critical element is glaringly missing in the conversation: The utter lack of visionary leadership.
Can you recall one — even one — memorable and inspiring talk delivered by any of our so-called leaders, giving us hope and confidence, calling upon our noble spirits, offering us a clear and focused long-term vision. Someone who invokes our past history of resilience under pressure, discovering greater strengths in times of crisis, learning how to grow and thrive — not just survive — through the greatest difficulties.
The “leaders” of our time — in politics, business, academia, education, even religious leaders; not to mention our celebrities, in film, music, sports and entertainment — have at best taken a reactive posture, addressing — some better than others — the presenting challenges on the ground. Some are completely silent. Others are speaking up, but very often pandering and politicizing positions in our polarized climate.
We cannot minimize the crucial role of our health community, the selfless heroism of our first responders, and the overall efforts of so many in helping save lives. Different government leaders have risen to the occasion offering us advice on containing the virus and protecting ourselves and others, through quarantine, masks, when and how to reopen our institutions and economy, and other (hopefully) sound guidance during this pandemic.
But a leader is much more than a firefighter, a proficient administrator and an expert manager.
He is not just someone who can flatten the curve and contain the burning fires — the fires of Covid-19 or the fires of racial unrest..
A true leader provides a higher purpose to life and its challenges. While addressing the immediate crisis and mobilizing the best and most efficient possible teams to handle the challenges on the ground, a real leader offers the people a long-term vision, a strong and resolute voice, resonating with moral and spiritual clarity.
So where are our leaders? For whatever reason, that story-line has not appeared.
You don’t want to miss this important talk by Rabbi Jacobson, addressing the underlying reasons for our leadership vacuum, and what we can do about it.
“Leaders reflect the times and the generation in which they live; they mirror the people, their standards and social attitudes. Leaders are an excellent litmus test of our values, goals and aspirations. if you want to know the priorities of a community or a nation check out the leaders they embrace. It’s a myth to believe that our leaders are removed from, and can be expected to live up to, higher standards than we ourselves value.
“What do we see when we look at our generation? We have lived for some time in a vacuous material world, where success and leadership is defined by superficial matters; sports, entertainment and glitz (e.g. Academy Awards), and the biggest event of the year is the Super Bowl. We have become spoiled. Our success and prosperity has dulled our senses and caused us to become apathetic to higher core values. What leaders do you expect in a world like this?”