Yesterday I bumped into someone who has long been involved in party politics. We made small talk in the beginning but ended up discussing our country’s future. He stated that we needed a leader “who’s not afraid to pound his fist on the table to scare people into getting things done”. It made me think of the late Soviet leader, Mr. Nikita Krushchev, who during the 1960 UN General Assembly got so furious at the Philippines delegate that he started pounding the table with both fists and when that didn’t get him the results he had expected, he took off his shoe and used it to continue banging. The next day Mr. Khrushchev apologized to everyone, especially to the Philippines.
Do we need an authoritarian table-banging leader for things to improve?
Leaders (especially the table-bangers) always hold a position of power or authority. Not necessarily in politics but also in religion, labor unions, village chieftainship, and what not. These leaders want to sell us what they want or have to sell. How many times haven’t we seen cabinet members on stage with a microphone, pacing in front of flashy powerpoint presentations selling their 12-point blueprint for a brighter future? They always tell you about their products and why we need them.
We also have those who lead. These people are more than often not in a position of power. They don’t aim to sell to people who need what they sell. People who lead usually are interested in selling ideas, dreams and telling others not what they do, but why they do it. When France was in a dip in the 80s, its president invited the most talented French artists, not economists or accountants, to the Élysée for inspiration. This meeting led to Les Grands Projects that made France dream again. These leading artists inspired and moved the French leader.
That’s why Sojourner Truth, Ain’t I a woman?‘ (1851) and Malala Yousafzai, Worldwide Access to Education’(2013) will forever be remembered as the best examples of inspiring stories ever told. I recommend you to listen or read the transcripts of these gems.
Ever wondered why Martin Luther King went with the title I have a Dream’ and not I have a plan? He told people about his grandiose dream and how much he believed and why he believed. And people who believed what he believed took his cause, and made it their own.
More than 70 years ago a local party suggested we needed a a local Sukarno, the autocratic Indonesian president who later had his hand-picked parliament appoint him president for life. That party was at odds with its main opponent at the time, Dr. Moises da Costa Gomez, probably the most inspiring Statesman we’ve ever had. He was considered soft, diplomatic and probably not much of a table-banger. In the end though, it was Mr. da Costa Gomez who realized our autonomous status.
Question: do we want the Nikita Krushchevs and Sukarnos in the world or be inspired by those who lead?