Chapter 41 – short excerpt
“We consciously practice spiritual intelligence when we intentionally choose spirit over ego, love over fear, the highest good for all, over self- interest.” Dietrich
The fascination and joy of tracing the source of our fantasies
We can discover the deficits that were shaped in our first five years of life. They fuel our fantasies which are largely designed to help us transcend our frustrations and limitations. Our problem is that our fantasies tend to become obsessions. It has been well said “Our ultimate desire is our ultimate delusion, unless our ultimate desire is to fulfil the words of God.” (Verner & Lotte Pelz)
So here is the human dilemma – a yearning that by its very nature will create obsessions that can never be realised. The incomplete and unfulfilled sense of self, the ego, is motivated by these deficits and is always wanting to go beyond its self to escape the exquisite ache. Viktor Frankl says that the most significant feature of the human personality is our desire for self- transcendence.
Our fatal flaw: We cannot transcend ourselves by focusing on ourselves.
In our subconscious search for fulfillment we are unwittingly on the journey toward self- transcendence. Hence the fatal flaw we human beings have – we can never transcend ourselves by focusing on ourselves. In a narcissistic world that continually tells us how to gain satisfaction by indulging ourselves, we find we are deceived into a self-destructive morass of self- absorption. Down deep within, we know it’s not working. No wonder Mick Jagger’s song “I can’t get no satisfaction” and U 2s’ “I still haven’t found what I’m searching for” are the anthems of a generation.
Small wonder we still haven’t found what we’re looking for.
Only the most unaware among us can ignore the destructive impact of unfulfilled dreams or the fulfillment of self-indulgent dreams for attention, wealth and celebrity. Thanks to the merciless probing of the media every day we see so called stars who supposedly have it all, self-destruct before our eyes.
The love orientation that can save us from our ego
Viktor Frankl believes there are two options – to give ourselves to a cause greater than ourselves or to love someone unconditionally, both of which take us beyond ourselves. But there is another one that the likes of Mother Theresa and Francis of Assisi believed was the answer. It is to let the voice within lead us to an awareness of God’s love for us, then respond to life from that position. After all Jesus called it the first and great commandment, to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” ie: get this mind-set right and all the other orientations will fall into place.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
Our authentic nature is always bigger than any role we may settle for.
The important news is, that at the core of who we are lies our spirit that is always bigger than any roles we have taken on ourselves, or been given by others. These roles may support our identity in certain narrow and defined aspects of life, but there is always more for us to become.
There paradox is, the more we strive for significance through trying to be perfect, the more we can’t help but be driven by messages that come from our archaic needs.
Self acceptance is easier if somebody else accepts you.
Carl Jung said, “To strive for perfection is futile, but we must strive for completion; but the path to completion always goes through the doorway of self acceptance.”
Many Christians last century believed they had to be perfect because of a faulty translation in the authorised version of the Bible. It read,“Be ye perfect as I am perfect.” Sadly, many carried a heavy, and unnecessary burden, because the original was literally, “become completed as I am complete.” In the Beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5, it says “Blessed are…” The word blessed literally means being complete in yourself; in other words needing nothing outside of your spirit to make you feel whole.
Ouspenky says, “We are all uncompleted people.” If we want to continue the journey to completion we need to be prepared to leave the comfort of our roles and to transcend the neurotic part inside of us that wants equilibrium, status, and significance.
In the words of the apostle Paul, “I push on toward the mark of my high calling.” Like him, we need to be ready to leave things behind to do it – the roles that define us, patterns of thinking that trap us, and the habits of living that give us equilibrium. As Carl Jung reminded us, he had never come across a happy and well adjusted person in middle age who had not come to terms with the spiritual dimension of their existence.
A part of us will all ways struggle with the anxiety that comes along with the unknown in the face of the adventure. This is where the discovery of faith is essential.
Fixing ones gaze on what is unseen
Faith is not crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. It is tuning in to the part of you that can see the invisible. The apostle Paul says in the book of 2 Corinthians chapter 4 verses 13 to 18 that with the “spirit of faith,” he is able to see differently. In verse 18 he says “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen.”
When you look at an apple, what do you see? Cut it sideways and you will see a magical star; in that star you will see seeds that hold the DNA of what could become thousands of apple trees. It is invisible, but it has a latent life that can travel off to the great forever. When in God’s company and with his help we are traveling with him down “the path of life” (Psalm 16:11), we will find we have the resources that bring life to a whole new tomorrow.
Finding our narrative in bringing life for tomorrow
It won’t happen if we cling to the identity that is shaped by our past. The apple seeds have to leave the apple, go into the ground and even look as though they are dying, before they are transformed. First there is the frail seedling, then the young sapling, and finally a productive tree that can produce more apples, and more seed, to grow thousands more trees.
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot (martyred missionary)
Could it be that Job had been so shaped by his status and role in the community that he felt God had to answer to him, not the other way around? Could it be that instead of being a faith pioneer he had become a settler? Sometimes it is the great difficulties and life challenges that force us off our psychic posteriors and get us moving on to pioneer again. Elihu, the fresh young recruit, could see things Job and his erstwhile comforters were blind to. Job’s comforters had probably envied his status and significance and almost enjoyed his fall, while Job was feeling it was not fair for a man in his position to have to cope with what he was going through. He and his comforters were not seeing the situation from the same paradigm.
Time for change
There is a remarkable build-up of new evidence in the sciences, from quantum physics, neuro-science and astrophysics, all showing the scientific community it’s time for a change in thinking.
Those academics who can get past their own prejudices are starting to see there is more going on than their old paradigms have been able to grasp. Stephen Hawking, well known British cosmologist and a man known to push against his first wife’s faith, said recently in a rare moment of clarity, “The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but they reflect a certain underlying order, which may or may not be divinely related.” He went on to say, “The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like a Big Bang ,are enormous. I think there are clearly religious implications.”
A spiritual understanding of the universe
This was just the kind thinking that started getting Communist party intellectuals nervous before the collapse of their atheistic empire in the old U.S.S.R. They found that their brightest young scientists were, on the basis of their science, declaring that they were beginning to believe in a spiritual concept of the universe. Stalin must have turned in his grave to hear this, followed by current president Vladimir Putin’s chastising of the West for not protecting the heritage of the Christians around the world and in particular those of the Middle East.
It’s as if the universe knew we were coming.
In the words of Professor Freeman Dyson, research physicist at the Advanced Institute at Princeton, ”The more I examine the universe and study details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming.”
Noted Physicist Professor Paul Davies – hardly an evangelist for religion – said, ”A careful study suggests that the laws of the universe are remarkably felicitous for the emergence of richness and variety. In the case of living organisms, their existence seems to depend on a number of fortuitous coincidences, that some scientists and philosophers have hailed as nothing short of astonishing…This causal order does not follow from logical necessity; it is a unique property of the world and one for which we can rightly demand some sort of explanation.”
The new and active conversation between science and religion
The situation has changed remarkably. Scientist and theologian John Polkinghorne says there is now an active conversation between science and theology. He believes it began with the publication of Ian Barbour’s ground breaking book “Issues in Science and Religion.” Though published back in 1966, its influence has been unfolding and developing ever since.
The positive change in thinking was framed by Hungarian-British chemist and philosopher Michael Polanyi (1891-1976), whose writing helped free science from the limitations of its empiricist prison. This made it possible for the two disciplines, science and theology, to enter into a mutually respectful conversation.
Those who have missed the boat
Every now and then we come across the likes of Richard Dawkins who as a biologist, has completely missed out on this historic dialogue. One almost feels a little sorry for him as we discover videos of him debating those who are more than his equals, like Professor John C Lennox, Professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford. It becomes embarrassingly clear in these exchanges why many of Dawkins academic colleagues are red faced at the thinness of the philosophic underpinning of his arguments. Dr Lennox has no trouble gently blowing away Dawkins’ straw men and empty assertions that he put up as arguments.
The whole of science depends upon the predictability of the laws of nature
Richard Feynman Nobel Laureate in physics, expresses the emerging position on the remarkable order that’s found in the universe: “The fact that there are patterns at all to be checked is a kind of miracle. That it is even possible to find a rule, like the inverse square law of gravitation, is some sort of miracle.” He admits that, “It is not thoroughly understood at all, but because of its very presence, it undergirds science, it leads to the possibility of prediction – that means it tells you what you would expect to happen in an experiment you have not yet done.”
The magic of laws that can be formulated
The very fact that those laws can be mathematically formulated was for Einstein, a constant source of amazement that pointed beyond the physical universe. Allan Sandage, was widely regarded as the father of modern astronomy, and the He was also the winner of the 1991 Crafoord Prize (astronomy’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize) and the joint recipient of the inaugural Gruber prize in cosmology in 2000, and a foreign member of the Royal Society. He said “I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me, is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence – why there is something rather than nothing.”
The very miracle of existence has caused many academics to think again.
All of these thought leaders have caused other academics, along with Mark Worthing, to assert that “We are undergoing a paradigm shift of such significance that a new era in the history of science and theology is being heralded.”
There is what is termed, a burgeoning of associations of scientists and theologians interested in each other’s disciplines. In Australia to name but a few: The Institute for the Study of Christianity in an Age of Science (ISCAST); The University Science Faith Network; The Symposium on Science and Theology of the Australian Theological Forum, and the Centre for Theology Science and Culture, based at Flinders University Adelaide.
The dance between science and faith is becoming more harmonious.
In his book, The Dance between Science and Faith, research scientist Dr. Nick Hawke writes, “As science pushes its frontiers of knowledge, it is beginning to bump up against ultimate questions and this has helped prompt a new dialogue between the disciplines.”
This quiet build-up to a renewed interest in human spirituality became public with a Time Magazine cover story headlined, “God is making a comeback.” It reported, “In a quiet revolution in thought and argument that hardly anyone would have foreseen only two decades ago , God is making a comeback. Most intriguingly, this is happening in the crisp intellectual circles of academic philosophers.”
This spiritual part of us wants to get beyond appearances to its deepest yearnings for love, truth and beauty.
It cares about that which is beyond; that which is more than itself. This is why it is drawn to love, truth and beauty. Where has this part of us come from and what does it look like? When we explore the tie up between our conscience and our spirit, we also see the source of the delightful impulse that prompts us to move from self-absorption toward that which we – unlike the animals – recognise as good and true, and beautiful. This is where that unique human phenomena called awareness, choice and responsibility come into play.
The unique human capacity for a sense of responsibility
Richard Court on becoming Premier of Western Australia asked his father Sir Charles Court who’d previously been a long serving Premier of Western Australia, ”What is the secret of political leadership?” His father replied “Remember son, leaders look for responsibilities; leaders accept responsibilities; and leaders meet their responsibilities.”
Our uneasy relationship with responsibility
In J.K. Rowling’s, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, we come across this dialogue ”I feel I owe you another explanation Harry,” said Dumbledore hesitantly. “You may, perhaps have wondered why I never chose you as a prefect?” He went on to say,”I must confess that I rather thought you had enough responsibility to be going on with.”
Many of those who hunger for power, fail to realise that with real authority comes the burden of responsibility. While authority enhances the ego, the burden of responsibility confronts the ego with inevitable fear and anxiety. It produces stress, the kind of stress that can make the most strong and courageous, buckle at the knees. However, from procrastination to avoidance the ego has a multiple arsenal of ways to distance itself from the burden of responsibility.
Animals may have highly refined instincts, but these are not the same as a value based sense of responsibility, that is distinctively human. The unique human capacity for responsibility is one of the most remarkable features of the spirit’s role in the human psyche. Have you ever noticed our complex relationship with responsibility? It’s fascinating to observe how profoundly we grow when we learn to handle responsibility consistently and well.
Managing responsibility develops esteem and can repair damaged esteem.
Helping children learn to carry appropriate responsibility well, repairs and develops self-esteem. On the other hand most of us, almost as a reflex, are inclined to distance ourselves from the pain and stress of accepting the burden of responsibility for failure of our own behaviour? If we are successful in something, we are quite sure it is because of our gift, our genius. If we fail we are tempted to make an excuse or lie. We quickly look outside of ourselves for someone or something external to blame; may be a bad teacher we had at school, bad parenting or some structural injustice.
The capacity for responsibility is often a sign of spiritual maturity.
We often use “it” language to distance ourselves from the stress of personal responsibility. If we drop a piece of crockery we’re drying with the tea towel we are inclined to say “It slipped out of my hand,” rather than “I dropped it.” If we miss the train we’re likely to say “It went without me,” instead of “I didn’t turn up on time.” We have the unique capacity to accept and carry significant responsibility, but too often we use our intelligence to protect our ego by avoiding, denying and excuse making. These regular patterns of behavior become obvious to others and affect trust.
We can’t see our own behavior – the predicament of our personal existence
One of the most embarrassing aspects of our personal existence is that we can’t see our own behavior and how it impacts others. We always judge ourselves by what we see of our motives but we tend to judge others by what we see of their behavior as we read it through our filters.
We all have significant blind spots – things that other people can see about us but we are blind to. It requires an intense commitment to truth, and the support of loving honest relationships, to grow beyond our personal delusions.
The unique aspect of our humanity to which our spirit brings life
If as Elihu said, “It is the breath of God in a man, the spirit in a man,” that gives us our unique capacity for seeing and knowing, where did it come from, and what are its characteristics? What are the things that inspire personal responsibility and develop our individuality?
THE SECRET OF POWERFUL AND TRANSFORMING LEADERSHIP
Donald Broadbent from the cognitive school of psychology actually believes that our traditional understanding of leadership can be significantly enhanced by looking at leadership through the lens of a cognitivist. Looking through this lens he says, “We will see that leadership is a transaction that occurs within and between the minds of leaders and followers. A leader is an individual who discerns a story, or myth – a mental representation – that significantly affects the thoughts, behaviours and feelings of a large number of people termed followers. Since followers invariably know many stories, a leader will only be effective if his or her story is powerful; if it can compete successfully for influence with already prevalent stories.”
The most powerful stories turn out – surprise, surprise – to be the ones about identity; stories that help individuals discover where they are coming from, and where they are, or should be headed. A crucial element in the effectiveness of a story hinges on whether a leader embodies the story; whether their own actions, values, and way of life reinforces the themes of the story that they relate.
The power of the right narrative to bring us to integration
In his book Re-Wired: Exploring Religious Conversion Paul Markham said, “Simply stated it seems becoming a Christian is the process of naturalisation into a narrative tradition which is, and is being shaped by the story of Jesus.”
It was Tertullian in the first century who said “The soul of man is naturally Christian.” He didn’t mean naturally virtuous, but have you noticed that everybody wants to look Christian, usually without paying the price of actually being Christian? (see early section of this chapter.)
A case could be put many of the other religions are redefining the presentation of their ethos to make them look more Christian. Tertullian was indicating that the deepest yearnings for what we would really like to look like and to be, if we felt we could sustain it, appear very much like Jesus. Maybe this is what lies behind the meaning of the words of John in his gospel when he said “Christ is the light which illuminates every man who comes in to the world.” Maybe it is why people like Mother Theresa have had so much impact!
Carl Jung finds another life key
Carl Jung wrote,“The historic figure we know as Jesus Christ is in fact the highest and most profound archetype that brought life to any spiritually hungry soul that identified with him.” That identification included names like Francis of Assisi of Italy, King Wenceslas of Czechoslovakia, Patrick of Ireland, Basil of Caesarea, Martin Luther of Germany, and John Wesley of England – to name a few. These people rose beyond the institutions of their day to bring spiritual insight and a social architecture that invited tens of thousands into a new and integrated, spiritually inspired, style of life.
The identification that shaped Western culture
There are those whose identification with Christ have shaped our culture – authors like Dickens, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky. Others whose identification with Christ shaped the genius of their creative output include names from Vincent van Gogh to the great Michelangelo, or musical geniuses like Bach or Handel, and countless poets from Gerard Manley Hopkins to William Cowper to Milton.
Our culture has been illuminated by the enlightened spirits of those who not only identified with Christ but felt they had a love relationship with him. Who can estimate the impact of the nineteenth century reformers like Wilberforce, Lord Shaftesbury, Elizabeth Fry, Florence Nightingale and Keir Hardy all of whom confronted power structures and transformed them? More recently we have Martin Luther King Jr., Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandella, Dom Helda Camara and Mother Teresa.
The source of all that is uplifting and sweet in our society
Professor Edwin Judge of Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, believed anything sweet or humanising in a culture was, on closer scrutiny, always produced by somebody who identified with Jesus of Nazareth. In my own country Australia, we have Simpson and his donkey. He is our most significant military hero yet probably never fired a shot in anger. He was an ordinary man who laid down his life for his friends.There is a part of us that is always looking around for a narrative, a story that we can identify with that reminds us of who we are meant to be.
The need of prophet mythmakers for social progress
The prophet mythmaker is one who tells us what we can become together, and gives us a vision of our life purpose in the future we are meant to create. He brings us the story that lifts and bonds us, and saves us from self interest. Some stories and life responses are durable. They have lasted, not because of their historicity or proven scientific veracity, but because deep within the heart of humankind there is a recognition of the highest self residing waiting to be born.
In some spiritually alert people there is a heightened sense of the mystery behind all things, something that is being confirmed at all levels of human experience. Geoffrey Satinover, a practicing psychiatrist, studying for his doctorate in physics said, “I believe the discoveries that are at the heart of physics will make people aware of the fact (not just aware, it will make it second nature to them in the way materialism is second nature now ) that the entire physical universe is permeated at every level with a mystery that is fundamentally theological in nature.”
“One may understand the cosmos but never the ego; that understanding of the self is more distant than any star.”
The path to peace is also a path that is willing to confront negative emotion.
What is a negative emotion? It is an emotion that is toxic to the body and interferes with its balance and harmonious functioning. Fear, anxiety, anger, bearing a grudge, sadness, hatred, intense dislike or jealousy, all interrupt the normal integration and life energy flow through the body. These emotions affect the heart, the limbic system, digestion, production of hormones, and so on. Mainstream medicine, although it knows very little about how the ego operates or how the spirit is meant to be the natural resting place of the soul, is beginning to recognise the connection between negative emotional states and physical diseases.
The harm caused by negativity contaminates the environment we exist in.
An emotion that does harm to the body also affects the people we come into contact with, and indirectly, through them, a chain reaction can take place. It is capable of contaminating countless others we will never meet. In fact we are either a life-giving factor in all of our social systems or a life taking factor. Energy and hope are either building in the relationships we are a part of, or entropy is taking place – the winding down of life and hope giving, collective energy.
Unhappiness is a generic term for all negative emotions.
I have seen whole corporate cultures become destabilized, unhappy and therefore unproductive, when infected by negative and destructive emotions. Because the ego is driven by a need to look good and be right, these situations are difficult to turn around without significant attitudes of humility in key opinion formers. If this doesn’t happen, because the opinions formed are ego-driven, those involved will tend to blame everything except their own blindness for the situation. Scapegoating will never bring resolution.
But what of positive emotions?
Do positive emotions have the opposite effect on the physical body? They do indeed, but we need to differentiate between short term positive emotions that are ego centred and ego generated, and the deeper emotions that emanate from our natural state of connectedness with our spirit.
The ego is always looking for happiness in all the wrong places. Happiness for the ego comes when happenings are going the way the ego wants them to go. In contrast, our spirit always wants to lead us to joy. Joy comes through our spirit harmonising with and finding its place in, the divine narrative that is continually unfolding. It is an experience that has a unique quality.
Why ego happiness is always anxiety prone and contaminated
What appears to be positive emotion generated by the ego already contains its opposite, which it can quickly become. Here are a few examples: What the ego calls love is often possessiveness and an addictive clinging that can turn into hate within seconds. Anticipation about an upcoming event that looks like hope is really the ego’s infantile overvaluation of the future. It easily turns into its opposite if the event doesn’t fulfil the ego’s expectations. It will only be to normal for feelings of anger, disappointment or of being let down, to rise.
Whichever way you see it, the ego’s happiness is always conditional. Praise and recognition may have you feeling alive and happy one day, while being criticised or ignored will have you dejected and unhappy the next. The attention paid to you by a member of the opposite sex might send you to cloud nine, but the removal of that attention can let you down badly.
The ego’s pleasures are always vulnerable to change of circumstance.
The pleasure of a wild party can quickly turn into the bleakness of a hangover the next morning. The ego’s so-called happiness is transient because it stems from the mind’s ego-centred identification with external factors. These external concerns are unstable, being tied to circumstances that are liable to change at any moment.
Joy and peace are unconditional spiritual states of inner being.
What we call the deeper emotions are inner conditions that are not really emotions at all but spiritual states of being. These are the states of being Jesus taught his followers and tried to lead them into. The first lessons he attempted to teach his new followers were found in the gospel of Matthew chapter 5:1-12 (we call them the Beatitudes.) In the Greek, from which they are translated, there is a remarkable psychological paradigm. It’s a shame Freud didn’t take the time to study and learn from the Master Teacher. There is nothing in The Beatitudes that will let them inflate the ego; just the opposite. They are all about living a life detached from the powerful demands of the ego.
Happiness is when happenings are going the way our ego wants them to go.
As already mentioned, emotions that the ego pursues as pseudo-happiness all exist within the realm of opposites. In sharp distinction ‘spiritual states of being’ have no opposite because they emanate naturally from deep within the wellsprings of our own spirit. Thus we can learn to live with a joy that is not dependent on circumstances.
From within this spiritual state of being comes its fruit – love, joy, hope, peace patience, etc. These are all expressions of an ego free of the need to look o.k. because the spirit that transcends the ego knows it is ok. Integration and authenticity without a drivenness to be something else are the clear hallmarks of a spiritual state.
The delusion that science will lead us to a happy future has exploded.
Andrew Greeley is amazed at how human consciousness has changed since his time in the academic world. ”When I was a graduate student in the sixties the serene confidence we had in the explanatory power of science would not have been questioned, I think, by either my fellow students, or by my teachers. Within a decade, however came the beginning of the dramatic change. We were conscious even within the scientific enterprise itself that every answer generates new more complex and difficult questions. But we also understand now that science cannot explain everything. Particularly the great mysteries: Why anything exists at all, and why there is the titanic struggle between good and evil in the universe, the human race, and in each of us. These are mysteries that can never be explained away.”
Coming to terms with the mysteries that cannot be explained away
As this generation sees man’s impact on his environment, the global economic crisis, the water crisis and the disappearance of so many animal species it is clear that these mysteries can never be resolved by science. In October 2010 it was revealed that one out of every five of the world’s vertebrates are threatened with extinction and that in the same month 600,000 names were cut from the world’s plant inventory – gone forever! Our frail biosphere is in deep trouble. It is more than an intellectual and scientific problem we have. To all who are not morally blind it is obvious that something is terribly out of kilter and it is right there in front of us every night on the evening television news.
There’s got to be a change of the inner world to save the outer world.
We have been to the moon and back a number of times and worn out a couple of space shuttles taking multiple trips to outer space. We have created high tech telescopes to enable us to look ever deeper into the cosmos, and have sent high tech space probes further into the universe than ever before.
We have even experienced what Carl Sagan called the blue spot phenomenon which happens when we have gone so far into space that on looking back with high powered lenses, the earth is little more than a blue dot smaller than a pixel on your computer screen. Space exploration has shown us the uniqueness of life as we know it here on earth: It has also shown that there is nowhere else to go in the foreseeable future.
Well, only time will tell whether Julia Gillard’s carbon tax system is an heroic and idealistic attempt to save the planet as some want to believe, or a mindless attack on our frail manufacturing industry and way of life.
We are pioneers in new territory, with very little else to use as a reference to give us clear direction or confidence. If you enjoy irony, place the actual economics of the program alongside the ones negotiated by Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull. There is very little difference between them, apart from the tax reform that was smuggled in as a redistribution of wealth by stealth.
We have yet to see what the outcome will be, if any, for the environment. The main outcome of the last one was to have both Malcolm and Kevin lose their jobs. In spite of the Labour Party’s apparent ‘rock solid’ support behind Julia, the news from behind the scenes is indicating serious questions like, “Will she be capable of selling it?” Questions have already been asked of possible alternative leaders, one in particular, who has said he wasn’t ready to assume leadership before the next election.
Power might be heady stuff but it’s a terrible experience when you know you’ve lost influence and are trying to hold your head up.
Today the crowing rooster in the hen house, tomorrow the feather duster!
There are two questions a very senior and respected Labour man believes the party is waiting to get answers for that will seal her fate. 1: ”Are they listening to her anymore?” 2: ”Do they believe anything she says anyway?”
It is always the unanticipated events that can bring you down.
The one thing that Barack Obama and Kevin Rudd didn’t anticipate when they came to power was the global economic crisis that nearly unravelled the whole world’s economic system.
Kevin Rudd’s response was to release billions of dollars into the economy to fund his education revolution by putting up hundreds of libraries all over Australia, and providing free computers for students. Similarly he fatefully rushed hundreds of millions of dollars into a scheme to insulate our houses.
The intention was heroic. It was to use the nation’s surplus to shore up jobs for the workers. The coalition would have been likely to have done exactly the same thing, but because they were not in power at the time, they are not the ones now wearing a big target on their back.
In hindsight it is now clear too much money was released and not enough good administration put in place to oversee the allocation of the money. There was too much waste but nobody had the crystal ball to see what was needed, and for how long.
There are three key words that typify effective inspirational leadership – inspiration, integrity and implementation. Kevin was, I believe was a great inspiration but the organisational integrity of the process and the patchy implementation sadly left a lot to be desired.
Every new government policy when released, always has unintended consequences.
Every brand-new model motor car has the unique selling proposition we are told about. It is always better however, to buy the more mechanically refined second or third edition of the model because there are always unintended consequences.
Personally I have done many things in my life, with the best will in the world, and had my self-confidence shattered. I had to face unintended consequences and in the words of Charley Brown wondered, ”How can you be so wrong when you’re so sincere?”
Welcome to life, Charley Brown.
There are times when leaders feel they are trying to find an ‘approximate solution to an insoluble problem,’ but they still have to have the courage to act on as much as they can see at the time. Hope is present if they have the humility to pray like Elihu in the book of Job, “That which I see not, teach thou me.”
A situation will almost never turn out exactly as we imagined it, and if we are humble, however badly it turns out, we will do better the next time round. But that assumes we don’t give up, and are willing to let God educate us.
This also presupposes that the very culture you’re in when the challenging situation occurs, is also humble enough to be able to learn If so it will learn life’s most important lesson that ‘failure isn’t fatal.’ In real life we are all on a learning curve and I as leader always saw an honest mistake as the price of education for all involved in the enterprise.
Back to Julia; we all know it’s not going to be as simple as she says, but will she, Tony, and subsequent leaders have the humility to acknowledge where the reality was?
We are all pioneers in the business of coming to terms with a world we have been irresponsible in.
We are all pioneers in a world we have never lived in before. To some extent that is a feature of life on the frontiers in the 21st century. In the words of the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard “We must live our life forward, but have the courage to understand it backwards.”
Maybe that is why we are told “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”.