Thursday, August 20, 2009

High-Paid Divisiveness

“People are best able, and perhaps only able, to cross the many barriers of race, class, custom, and belief that divide them when they are able to share experiences that make them feel good. Only from these do they get a stronger sense of their own, and therefore other people’s, uniqueness, dignity, and worth.”

“What we need to pull our countries more together are more people who can afford to be polite, and much more – kind, patient, generous, forgiving, and tolerant, able and willing, not just to stand people different from themselves, but to make an effort to understand them, to see the world through their eyes. These social virtues are not the kind that can be talked or preached or discussed or bribed or threatened into people. They are the kind of surplus, an overflowing, in people who have enough love and respect for themselves and therefore have some left over for others.”

“Leaders are not what many people think – people with huge crowds following them. Leaders are people who go their own way without caring, or even looking to see whether anyone is following them. “Leadership qualities” are not the qualities that enable people to attract followers, but those that enable them to do without them. They include, at the very least, courage, endurance, patience, humor, flexibility, resourcefulness, determination, a keen sense of reality, and the ability to keep a cool and clear head even when things are going badly.

This is the opposite of the “charisma” that we hear so much about.”

From John Holt’s classic “Teach Your Own” (1981). John was really a fascinating man. I wish he were still with us.

I suppose I was particularly drawn to these passages because I am at a stage where I have just about lost all patience for the charismatic “personalities” with national programs who make their living breeding divisiveness, anger, fear, and rage among us. You know, the ones with the 30-lb bullhorns and no manners. The ones who bellow and screech insults over the top of anyone who attempts to open an honest dialogue which might just challenge one of their own cherished prejudices. The ones who just can't bear the possibility that someone they disagree with might just have an idea worth considering.

There seems to be a lot of confusion these days about what constitutes a leader. So, let me just spell it out, plain and simple. If you are blatantly deriding another individual in a public forum, whether television, radio, print, or whatever, because you're just not skilled enough in debate to put forth an effective and convincing argument, you are not a leader. If you are incapable of keeping your mouth shut long enough for your “guest” to complete a single sentence, much less an entire thought, you are not a leader. If you are so terrified of having a different view expressed on your show, so terrified that a single one of your “followers” might possibly be tempted to open their own minds to a new idea, that you hit the kill switch on your “guest” so you can have the last word, which is inevitably an insult or put-down, then you are not a leader. And, if you call the President of the United States a “racist” who “hates white people” simply because you disagree with a policy he is putting forward, you are not a leader. No, Glenn, you are not a leader, and you most certainly are NOT a statesman by any stretch of the imagination. You’re just a high-priced salesman with a big mouth and no manners who’s read a couple of books and thinks he knows all the answers. True leaders do not claim to have all the answers, they only ask that we set aside our differences long enough to find the answers together. Everyone else is just selling something. Like a book. Or two, or five, or ten. Or spots for commercial advertisements on their national show.

Let’s get this straight, people. Leaders are not in it for the money. If your favorite “leader” is making their living by fanning the flames of divisiveness among our citizenry, then they’re not a leader. They’re a “personality”, and they’re in it for the money. And they’re making their money by destroying our country and any chance we have of coming together to solve the considerable challenges we are facing. If you follow the money, whether it leads to a television commentator, a radio host, or a politician, it’s not going to take you to a leader. It's going to take you to a salesman.

Not that I have an opinion, or anything…


  1. Technically, that'd be "brava", seeing as how I'm a girl :) Regardless, I KNEW you'd appreciate it!


  2. You go girl! Tell it like it is!

  3. Glenn Beck is an awful man. My issue with him is not so much that he is divisive, though, it would be difficult for him to be any more divisive than he is. Rather, I'm really bothered by his hypocrisy. He screams of hate and disdain for anyone who has a different opinion (or he simply ridicules them) and yet gives lip service to how patriotic he is and how he is working to pull the country together. It is truly sad that so many people see him as an example of goodness, righteousness and patriotism. He is the antithesis of that! Unfortunately, I have lost a lot of respect for some people who I truly respected over their opinions about this awful, awful man.