Our better selves

I just watched a short promotional video for democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders.  I will share it here now so you can understand the context of the thoughts I'd like to share.

What is great leadership?  In my mind, great leadership conjures up words like empowerment, challenge, dignity, respect, compassion and heart.  Great leadership lifts us up, and inspires us to strive for our better selves, as human beings, as communities, as nations, and as a planet.

I don't know Bernie Sanders at all.  I've only loosely followed the political circus that is happening in the United States.  However, in this video and in his voice I hear an honest assessment of the America of today and a vision of the America of tomorrow.  He doesn't do so by inciting fear or promoting exclusion; he doesn't do so by pointing fingers at the other guy or by painting a plastique picture of an America that is beyond reproach.  Instead he speaks the truth and challenges everyone to imagine a country where there is truly justice, dignity and opportunity for all.

There are some people who don't want to hear the big ideas or buy into notions of substantive change.  Being bold of thought, in the way that Bernie Sanders is in this video, requires political cahunas.  It is this kind of thinking that is required right now.  I've been longing for it.  Maybe you have, too.

I'm not American and have no say in the decisions that are going to be made in the coming months.  However, what happens is going to affect us all at one level or another.  That's why I feel comfortable weighing in on another nation's business.

America is as polarized as it's been in a generation.  The rise of Donald J. Trump speaks volumes about the state of the nation and the mistrust of normal politics.  It is a case study for how an unlikely reality TV star can get to the threshold of the White House, and come November, may get the electoral nod to go inside and start running the most powerful nation on earth.

Some people feel that Donald Trump has the answers; is the answer.  Some of those people are my friends and colleagues.  I respect their opinions and need to pay attention as to why they feel that way.  Despite his bombastic, belittling, and brash approach, Donald Trump has single-handedly exposed a simmering underbelly of discontent in America that needs to be addressed.  His no nonsense, tell it like it is, strategy has cut to the core of a wide swath of people from all political stripes, religious affiliations, economic strata, and backgrounds.  There is something important to be learned by what's happening, regardless of the outcome in November.

I would argue that there is a simmering underbelly of discontent here in Canada, too.  We've seen sweeping government change at all levels in recent years.  We have as much work to do as our neighbours to the south.

At the end of the day, leadership is about lifting others up, not tearing them down.  It is about reaching for the stars, not dragging dreamers back to earth.  It is about aspiring to something better, together, as one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.


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