When leaders disappoint: Two Battles for a Lifetime and Eternity

Leadership matters.

How we perceive leaders matters.

How leaders behave matters.

All too often we become enamored with a leader way too soon, way too fast. We project unto them what we wish they were and avoid seeing – believing – who they clearly are.

We all too often put leaders up on a pedestal only to see others tear them down, disparage them, belittle them, make fun of them; destroy them… And we watch in disbelief, only to realize later that they were duly criticized, that they belong in jail. That they duped us.

This happens in big and small ways. It happens with world leaders; it happens with community leaders; with family leaders; with politicians and faith leaders. And it happens over and over again.

And yet we continue doing the same thing, seemingly refusing to learn from history, from past events, from well-founded words of wisdom from friends and family.

And so it is today with so many of us.

In some cases we are part of the willing posse, buying into the illusion of leadership perfection. Friends warn us, yet we believe. It is how we were brought up. It is deep in our faith DNA.

In other cases we are in the resistance from the get-go and can not understand how our best of friends don’t see the clearly evident evil of  – in our eyes – a phony leader. We warn them, yet they persist in their unbending support for the leader because their fixation on a particular outcome, be it pro-life or judicial control.

As a practicing Catholic – that is, we are practicing but we don’t have it quite right yet – we are aghast with the blatant failure of our faith leaders to grasp the severity, emergency, and immediacy of the catastrophic age our Church is living through. These leaders are tone deaf. You want to give them the benefit of the doubt; you pray for them; you try to understand their meek statements and attempts at theological calisthenics.  Yet, it simply does not feel right. Rather it feels you are being played. It feels they are buying time. It feels they are about one thing and one thing only: Power.

And so it is, of course, with our premier national civic leader, the President of the United States of America. In his case, it seems it is not only about Power. It is only about himself. Nada mas. Nothing more. The criticism are many: The atrocities he says, his demeanor, the way he behaves, acts, talks; coupled with his evident lack of human decency, empathy, and authentic care for others; and, add to that his persistent lying and total disregard for empirical facts.

Yet many tell us to accept these undisputable shortcoming for the greater good. Many tell us that it is the results that count; keep the eye on the prize; don’t get swayed by the waves of criticism. Stay strong. Believe. America first. At all costs… These leaders will tell you they are the victims of deranged fanatics who want to destabilize the cherished institutions and question the bedrock of our core beliefs – be in our faith or our country.

They will instill doubt in our minds. They will question our allegiance, our commitments, our steadfastness to your core values if we dare disagree. They will insist that they have the answers for the greater good. Just trust them. Hang in there. There is a brighter future under their leadership. Their’s is the way. Remember you are the servant, they are the masters. Pray. Obey. They know best. You have incomplete, biased, and inaccurate information. Facts are in the eye of the beholder. They can best interpret facts for you. Beware of group-think. Remember the group-think people, the academics, scientists, and other self-proclaimed thinkers are all against us, these leaders will tell you. They will tell us that these “others”  don’t understand us, they want to tear us down…. These self-centered corrupt leaders will do whatever they have to do to make you think their authority is unquestionable. 

We, however, must say ENOUGH!

Leadership without informed, skeptic, questioning, discerning followers is not leadership: it is power grabbing; it is manipulative governance; it is authoritarianism.

Whether it is one specific leader at the top – as it is evident with the President of the United States – or it is a team of corrupt appointed leaders – as it is evident with some bishops and priests in the Catholic Church – we have a choice to make as participants in the flock, as residents of this Nation.

As with most things in life, three choices mark the extremes.

[1] Choice one: Leave – and disengage

[2] Choice two: Accept – and live on

[3] Choice three: Resist – and work for change

I choose the third.

The Catholic Church is my Church. It is far from perfect, but it has provided me the foundation for my life’s spiritual journey.  I am not going to let a bunch of criminals disguised as leaders to steal the beauty, grace, love which is the Catholic Church. These criminals belong in prison. I will work with every ounce of my spirit to see that we as a Church cleans our soul and focus on service as theology.

The U.S. is where I live. It is far from perfect, but it is where I am by happenstance of life.  I am not going to let this sorry excuse for a President that we have to steal the aspirational – if unfulfilled – ideals of this Country. I will resist with every ounce of my body to see to it that he does not perverse the ideals of the United States  into a warp sense of conceited ego-centric ‘me first’ nationalism.