“Abraham Lincoln was revered as a man who did not ‘offend by superiority’,” – Emerson.
If this condition (my title) is truly an offense, then what does this say for the leadership of the United States for the last fifty to sixty years?
I completed reading ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that can’t stop talking’,by Susan Cain this evening. While the book was a very interesting read, and I highly recommend it to introverts and extroverts alike, it was the above quotation in the ‘Meet the Author’ notes that struck me. It was included with other quips that emphasized the idea that current sociological trends focus on the ‘cult of personality’ rather than the ‘culture of character’ – the trend/standard from over a century ago.
Putting aside the question of intro/extroversion of any particular leader, go back and consider this idea of ‘offend by superiority’. It’s an easy assumption to make that all of us, at one time or another, have been offended by a superior. A teacher, a boss, anyone in a position of authority.
In those instances, the stakes were of the micro variety. An embarrassment in front of classmates, a lost promotion or raise, a direct offense surely, but nothing that cannot be overcome. So, when looked at from the macro level, why are ‘we the people’, offended by those we send to state and/or federal office?
One of my bosses once said that ‘presentation is everything’. Another said, ‘the medium is the message’. And yet another one said, ‘it is what it is’. What is it that links these vapid and trite sayings together? (Besides being vapid and trite, smart ass.) It’s the lack of statesmanship, of substance in the efforts of the politicians.
Here’s a perfect example. A senior politician ignoring, if not outright denying statements and positions she made to the media on multiple occasions. It is an exceedingly rare case for a politician to take the high road, speak the truth, and not back down when the jackals come calling. Those that do, must do so from the safety of retirement. The problem with that timeline is that a) it confirms what the average person has always suspected – some manner of chicanery, and b) the revelation does not include fixing the issue.
So, granting some folk a superiority over the rest can be anecdotally proven to be not that great an idea. What to do? Develop better checks AND balances. Set limits, both in terms of time in place (office or position) and in terms of accomplishment (develop and implement a solution). Force ourselves to focus on the problems needing to be solved, and not drool over ourselves in worthless meetings where consensus is either never found or pushed down the road to be solved by ‘the other guy’.