The world is at war today. This is not a news flash. It’s the way things have been most days since the beginning of history. But consider this: Is there a war going on (even under the surface) within the culture of your organization?
Sometimes wars appear to be about land or borders. Sometimes they seem to be about race or tribe. Sometimes they seem to be about colour of skin or religious beliefs. Sometimes they seem to be about important matters and other times they seem to be about insignificant differences.
Is it possible that there is a single cause of all war?
The truth is that all war is about one thing, and one thing only: Someone has decided that X is right, therefore Y and anyone who believes Y is wrong.
The problem is that people who believe Y (or anything else) believe that those who believe X (or anything other than Y) are also wrong.
One of the things that I’ve learned over many years of studying a variety of subjects, including human dynamics and leadership psychology, is it is an unquestionable truth that human being have a compelling need to belong. It is our primal need to find our tribe, a place where we feel we are accepted and once we do, we will fight for our tribe.
As leaders we must elicit rather than demand loyalty, or whatever loyalty we get will be at best passing. If we demand loyalty through force we will likely get it out of fear (until the individual can slip the chains of the imposed “loyalty”)
You and I are extremely fortunate! Why, you may ask? Because we were born in a time when a great human being walked the earth. He was not a myth, or a legend, but a flesh and blood person who in some way touched all of us. He was able to do what he did, make the difference he made by holding true to what he “knew” to be true, and in so doing taught us all how to be better humans.
He was a man who taught us what freedom really is, what commitment really is, what honour, grace and integrity really are. It may be that he has been a better example of “turn the other cheek,” than anyone (certainly in modern history). Imprisoned by those who held him as the enemy for more than a quarter of his life, when he was free he spoke only of the unification of sides. He even refused to condemn even those who would have killed him without batting an eye.
Before the world knew him as the great peacemaker, the great “Madiba,” many in the Western world including later to become Vice President Dick Chaney condemned Nelson Mandela as a terrorist. In fact, in 1986, many American congressmen voted to condemn apartheid in South Africa and call on the nation to free Nelson Mandela. But future vice president Dick Cheney was not among them. Cheney voted against the bill – America’s Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act – which passed with wide bipartisan support. Mandela was then in the 23rd year of his 27-year prison sentence.
Very few currently sitting members of Congress have said they stand by this particular vote, which is now viewed as a vote for apartheid. But Cheney said in 2000 that he stands by it entirely. “The ANC was then viewed as a terrorist organization,” Cheney said on ABC’s This Week. “I don’t have any problems at all with the vote I cast 20 years ago.” In fairness to Cheney that was his truth.
You can see why Mandela was outspoken about the “War on Terror” and the labeling of individuals as terrorists without due process.
Mandel’s story is far bigger than I can cover here, but what I will say is that his “long walk to freedom” came at a very high price. He had spent most his adult life treated as a “terrorist” yet very soon after he was released from the prison on Robben Island, it seems that he may have become to those who feed on anger, a toothless tiger. He was no longer fighting against the antiquated apartheid regime but rather against the existing order, a system of power that had supported those who had imprisoned him.
We must stop the war of Right and Wrong because it is the root of all war. War between nations, religions, tribes, families and even lovers. As leaders we have a responsibility to not only be fully awake/conscious but also to assist others in also becoming “woke”. As a leader let me ask you to stop for just a moment and realize that the “right” and “wrong” you (and I) have carried around with such fervour, is not likely even our own. We have all been in some way indoctrinated into adopting our particular version of the “truth”. To break this old paradigm we must become a tribe of Earthlings.
We (Planet Earth) lost one of the truly great ones, someone who was a living, breathing example of an Authentic Leader, and yet just like other very great ones who walked the earth, he was a human being with faults and imperfections. Although we may be sad for our loss, let us celebrate that we lived in a time where true greatness, true humanity walked this same Earth with us.
As I reflect that on 5 December 2013, Nelson Mandela, the first President of South Africa, as well as the country’s first black head of state, elected in a fully representative democratic election, died at the age of 95… Let us strive to find within ourselves the truth of who we are and walk it with the commitment and integrity that Nelson Mandela did in the face of literal and political power imprisonment. And most of all let us remember that he was a warrior of peace, let us NOT take action in his name that he would not have taken.
Nelson Mandela elicited Fierce Loyalty because he displayed not only authenticity but also a rare form of integrity.
R.I.P. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
I trust that you found this article valuable. If so feel free to send this to your friends. I eagerly anticipate your feedback and comments. Please share, like and comment below and remember Nelson Mandela made the impossible, possible:
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