By Arjuna Seneviratne –
Fear corrupts, absolute fear corrupts absolutely…Power humbles, absolute power humbles absolutely
The great spiritual leaders of the world lived lives of piety and engaged the world with clarity, compassion and a desire to succor those in pain. Their lives were epitomized by a complete lack of fear and a confidence in the belief that what they thought, said and did was not only right but mutually consistent. They wielded (and still wield) an enormous power to inspire human effort and give people confidence in themselves and their fellow beings. The same can be said albeit to a lesser degree of the Lincolns, Kings, Ghandis and Mandelas of this world. They never sought power, yet, their lack of fear and their compassion vested power in them and that power made them ever humbler, ever more compassionate.
Their vision, their ideas, their movements elaborated the aspirations of many not because they asked themselves crafty questions about what people need and then attempting to feed those needs for a strategic while in order to promote themselves as leaders of men and cover themselves with personal glory. They knew that such kudos were empty of substance, short lived and require manipulation or force to maintain for it is not possible to feed human desire indefinitely without compromising one’s self and one’s basis for action at many levels. Those leaders cared not one whit for such fickle, shifting, changing and self-serving requisites of conditioned existence. Instead, they asked themselves, “what is wholesome?”, “what is valuable?”, “what is right?” Taking themselves out of all equations, they asked themselves what can preserve regardless of themselves and what can continue despite of themselves.
In short, they asked themselves, “What is the truth?” and in their dealings with the peopled earth, they never, ever, compromised on that. As a result, what they spoke and what they did resonated powerfully with that elusive fundamental common to all mankind – humanness. As a result, as history has shown us, what they stood for is still standing. What they believed, is still believed by many. What they desired for civilization, civilization desired for itself.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to say that about our current crop of leaders. If leaders one can call them. Their place in the world was born, in the most, by self-servitude and self-preservation, achieved at great cost to the earth and its inhabitants and sustained through subscription to the very worst of human emotions. Their legacy is some of the darkest chapters of the history of the world and they wrote and continue to write a litany of damage, doubt, disillusionment, destruction and despair for all those who call this planet of ours home.
In their wake, they have left heated, deserted, desolate human landscape where hope is left kicking its little legs in the air and expiring sadly on the ground and in their promotion of self, they have generated and maintained for their own good, a very scared and worried majority. It is easy, that. Fear and its attendant trait of anger are very easy to trigger within oneself and in others. It is easy for weak men to exploit that condition to alleviate their own doubt and their own worry and these, because of the nature of our leaders is in fact, the reason why they promote themselves as leaders of men. Truth, for whatever its worth, is absolutely worthless for leading the frightened. Indeed, it mostly works against the weaklings of this world and their braggadocio.
From cradle to grave, fear drive their lives. Every milestone of their careers, every stance, every ideology is driven by the necessity to minimize the impact of that fear on themselves while leveraging the fear of others to push themselves to the top. The higher they go, the greater becomes that fear. At the top – in government or business or any other human endeavor, in their vanity, they call themselves the most powerful but in reality, they are the most fearful. At the top, they wield that fear ruthlessly, believing that as long as they remain at the top, scything everyone and everything in their path with an aggression born of absolute terror, other, equally frightened people cannot touch them. They believe that they can neutralize real or imagined danger from external entities by using fear to command and wield the weapons and the people at their disposal against such threats.
*Other pieces by the same author can be read at http://arjunareflections.blogspot.co.uk/