In this refection, I would like to focus on the relationship between the concept of leadership and the responsibility of those to whom this concept is exercised. The goal here is to begin a process of reflection whereby we can become more aware of our responsibility to each other and to our world. These thoughts are very simple and it is in no way comparable to the distinguished and relevant thoughts of the men and women who have already enlightened our minds and actions in this regard.
This ‘overwhelming’ faith and responsibility that humanity places on the shoulders of its leaders, a confidence that seems to abdicate our own responsibility as individuals to find amicable solutions to conflicts, calls for reflection. It is as if we have surrendered our own ability to solve issues and have given that authority to our leaders. We then expect our leaders to perform what seems to be, a kind of ‘magic,’ in solving the issues that confront us. When we do this, we seemingly put them on a pedestal that makes them super humans. Leaders come from the human “stalk.” They are humans like you and me. They come from families. However, should leaders be satisfied in reflecting the value systems already engrained in his or her society or should they attempt to transcend these acceptable norms to bring a new and more enlightened value system? The rules, laws, policies and programmes administered by any concept of leadership should not diminish the rights and responsibilities of its members as individuals, families or groups to nation building. On the contrary, it should be a complement and a catalyst in helping those entrusted to their care to critically analyse issues and to be able to manifest these analysed ideas into concrete realities for the common good. Pope Benedict XVI in his Encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” or “Charity in Truth” writes, “Besides the good of the individual, there is a good that is linked to living in society: the common good. It is the good of “all of us”, made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society. It is a good that is sought not for its own sake, but for the people who belong to the social community and who can only really and effectively pursue their good within it. To desire the common good and strive towards it is a requirement of justice and charity. ”
I do not have the answer but I believe a possible solution to some of the major problems we face today may be found within the sphere of dialogue, mutual trust and forgiveness. Will we ever be able to sit, face each other, forgive and move on? Is that asking too much from us who form the human stalk on this earth? Sometimes we tend to forget that we are the only known ‘rational species of life’ living in this universe up to today. This implies differences and opposing views coupled with their consequences. However, it also requires from us the exercising of our ability to solve issues without resorting to violence, i.e. in an amicable manner. This capacity is inherent in every human person. It is just not developed. The human person, fundamentally good, is constantly faced with evil, and sometimes in his weakness succumbs to it. Since we did not create humanity, then the Creator has imbedded deep within every one of his creatures the ability to overcome negativity. This capacity is more fundamental to us than the reverse. Had we not this capacity, there would not have been a human being present today. The fact that we live on this earth with all our problems is itself a testimony to our ability to overcome the “badness” in us. This is a testimony to the fact that we have chosen life and not death. To ignore this is to dwell persistently in our inability to effectively address the problems that threaten us as humans in our world. Am I too naive to believe that in putting our point of emphasis in the areas of commonality and approaching our differences in a spirit of mutual respect and dialogue, the possibility for a more peaceful world would dawn on us today? Is it an opportune time to be more oriented towards serving each other, a service that is directed to the dignity of every human person? Can our differences lead us to a greater appreciation of the diversity expressed in the human world and the need for a greater fostering of dialogue, where mutual trust becomes foundational? Does forgiveness have any place in our pluralised and secularised world where so quickly our once held “common grounds” become obsolete and thus the return of the cliché “more questions than answers?”
In the final analysis, our common goal should not be about self-justification. It is not about who is right and who is wrong. The essential guiding principle for today and the future should revolve around what is important for the human as individuals, families, countries, and the world (not necessarily in this order). When will we open our eyes to see that the ultimate process to effectively beginning to solve our issues, should not “overwhelmingly” lie in the hands of our leaders, neither should it remain with those who take justice in their own hands. Rather, a consolidated programme based on dialogue, mutual trust and forgiveness should guide our actions of every individual. Coupled with this we should also add the return to basic human values of concern, caring and the respect for every individual despite his/her race, colour, creed, or sex. The basic responsibility for the world lies with every human being and not with those whom we seemingly ‘set apart’, to solve the problems to which we all have created or contributed in some way or another. Leader plays an indispensible role, but one that is understood as “being intrinsic” to humanity’s aspirations. One of the basic functions of the leader is to create an environment in which the members can be cared for; a caring that allows each to thrive, grow and to become not a superhuman but a just simply human. As a leader, I am not able to solve it all, and thus I refrain from giving such impressions. If I do the latter, I would tend to hinder the blossoming of future leaders in the home, groups, countries and the world. The challenge for all leaders is to create this formational environment.
As we continue to strive to “create” responsible men and women to lead, guide, and mould and shape us may we continue to consider the importance of every individual, an importance that needs to be felt and experienced. It is my hope that every individual will find his/her place in this world, a place that allows him/her to make a humble and valid contribution to the work of Justice and peace. I think it is an opportune time to thank all our leaders – those alive and those who have passed – for working with us in fostering programmes based on justice, peace, and responsibility.
In conclusion, I am tempted to as ask how does this reflection apply to us as Caribbean people, whose ancestors have laid the foundation for our independent states today? With the rise of secularisation, where we find it increasingly difficult to find a common ground from which we can all evolve, the need for dialogue, trust and forgiveness is even more apparent. My desire is that everyone who reads this reflection will see the task of the continued creation of our world not so much as the responsibility of his/her neighbour, but rather the responsibility of each of us, beginning with me. May we not ignore the power of ‘praying with the scriptures’ as a guide in this process. Through this meditation, we are able to enter into an experience that allows us to see, judge and act, an action that is not isolated, but one that resonates within the concepts of justice, peace and responsibility for the common good of humanity. May God bless us all in our efforts at moulding and nurturing our leaders.