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The Audacity of Hubris

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Message Douglas Wallace

Let's be honest. The core responsibility in any position of leadership is to be competent at continuous adaptation to unforeseeable events.  It's the ability to plan for contingent circumstances which cannot be forecast, that earns these our leaders the power they value so highly.  Judging from the state of our economy, one would think that precepts like stability and control are irrelevant in the daily vernacular of our leaders. Kept outside the planning process, the average citizen today lives in a different world than his/her more privileged leaders at the top.  What matters most to those who are in power is staying in power.  What matters most to the American people is financial security

Now, I ask you.  Which goal best serves the nation?   A politician said to me years ago, "Do you know how we spell ethics?" His answer-"Money!"   And, where does that money come from, lobbyist? Perhaps for the first time in our history we have an opportunity to start anew. We can start by eliminating the lobbyist and putting the people back in charge of the people's business. The American people are yearning for stability-we're the ones who hand out the power to our leaders---and yet the reins to power are handed over to the lobbyists, who have been hired to represent the interests of those who got us into this mess in the first place. 

A Tinge of Disappointment

Many voters today see themselves as powerless and not so much as participating members of a political party as they are sidelined observers. For sure, many voters are enthusiastic about supporting their party and they're standing-by, waiting to receive marching orders at any moment.  But, even in those voters there's a just a tinge of disappointment these days-sort of like the Mom who is supporting her son's soccer game from the bleachers, while her son, the most valuable player, remains sidelined by the coach.  

Stress to the Extreme 

Many Americans are struggling to hold on to their homes, in the face of unprecedented layoffs and lack of adequate health care.  Struggling to make ends meet, while holding on to a job by your fingernails, is stressful to the extreme.  Add to that stress, the daily reminder that we're in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and then suddenly life can be downright intimidating.


To turn things around, our leaders must first explicitly address their own privileged mindset. Hubris, born from the power they value so highly, sets up the scenario where our leaders think that holding on to power is their most important job. Meanwhile, the economy has put the squeeze on all our budgets, at a time when our leaders are giving away tax dollars to those who created this mess in the first place.  Americans are being asked to make sacrifices, but we know all too well that what is really happening is we are the scapegoats for somebody else's malfeasance. Most Americans can accept the idea of sacrifice if they understand that sacrifice is vital to our country. What's lacking is confidence in our leadership.

The Smell Test

My mother was fond of saying, "If it doesn't smell right, it probably isn't."  It doesn't smell right when our leaders deceive voters whose trust is critical to their success.  It doesn't smell right when our leaders back down from the core values, beliefs and competencies that made them successful in the first place.  It doesn't smell right when some people are more equal than others.  Now, the truth about the smell test is that eventually the deterioration is so bad-- such a complete failure--and the stench is so vile, that a person has no choice but to get rid of the rotten thing.  But, hubris has a way of causing those in power to be in denial of risk and peril.  In the quest for power, the focus is so narrowly aimed at holding on to power, while seeking ways to gain more, than even a rotten corpse in the center of the room wouldn't get their attention.           

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Doug Wallace was born in 1949 in Big Rock, Tennessee. The third oldest of eight children, he was born into generational poverty with an alcoholic father and a battered mother. Doug and his siblings lived a transient lifestyle throughout their (more...)
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