Apr 13, 2008

a perfect search for the imperfect leader

In these days of political debates and "candidating to be a candidate," I am greatly puzzled at our snarky attitudes about anyone in power.


I am too young to remember anything different, for it seems like from the time I've been able to turn on the TV there have been critics about anything and anyone in "Washington D.C." - which sort of sets the stage for general cynicism all around. (Maybe that's why The Daily Show and Colbert Report have had appeal to me over the years.)

Yet I hear that in my parent's and grandparent's generations there was an era where those in office received respect from those they were entrusted to lead. Can you imagine that? Instead of distrusting our political leadership, we put all our marbles in that basket.

(Yes... I'm aware I said that phrase wrong. Think about it.)

Somewhere around Nixon a clear shift occurred, but even before then there were rumors that JFK had a thing for Marilyn Monroe.

Of course, that was unfathomable for many.

And yet...
  • It led toward the country not being so sure Johnson was being up front about Vietnam....

  • not to mention Nixon after he resigned because of Watergate...

  • and Ford went under fire for pardoning him...

  • only to find that Jimmy Carter was the target during the whole hostage crisis that no one was sure he handled right...

  • which Ronald Reagan took car, but certainly stirred up some more doubt of Presidential leadership when rapid inflation happened (not to mention Iran Contra)...

  • and then George Bush was the "new hope" (please note subliminal, double-edged "Star Wars" reference), but after the Persian Gulf we all wondered if the next World War was about to happen...

  • but it didn't, because as Clinton entered the scene we had great confidence in his charisma... and he did speak well... even during his impeachment trials...
  • so when George Bush won (did he?) and the country was divided (is it still?), we sprung back for a brief moment... about 911 minutes... only to run back quickly in opposite directions.
I wonder if we've just been ready to criticize George Bush from the get-go because we've trained ourselves to do so.

And I wonder if the next President even has the chance to be the hero every voter hopes he/she will be.

(Yes, I included "she" - doggone it.)

I also wonder sometimes if the real issue with our critique of the Presidents has only increased as more and more news outlets have given us more access to them. Some of the "great leaders" like Washington and Lincoln probably had a whole lot more faults than we know about because CNN wasn't around (even though Larry King may have been).

In my opinion, we will never truly have the perfect president we all try to vote for every year. We know this, of course, and yet perhaps it's the illusion of our vote actually making this happen that pacifies us.

Which, again, causes us to doubt anyone in positional authority. Maybe this is why...
  • Water cooler gossip easily happens about the boss.
  • People wonder "what's really going on" with televangelists.
  • When someone dies, families fight with the executor of the will (especially if it's a family member).
  • Church congregations might second-guess goals set by committees or staff teams until they gain momentum and are "safe" to get behind.
  • Parents in the athletic stands yell at the ref/ump/coach.
  • No one wants to buy a used car from a used car lot.
  • Even news stations are views as too slanty one way or another.
Perhaps all of this hints at our need and unconscious wanting for a Savior who is, in fact, quite perfect.

After all, there was a time when kings and presidents didn't exist... and God did.

I hear that it was described from His vantage point as "very good."


Katie said...

How ironic is it that practically everyone searches, yearns, pleads, for a perfect solution in an imperfect world. And yet while we "want" perfection it makes us face our own imperfections and that might be too much to ask. So as long as we are looking for perfect leaders we also hope that they will be imperfect so that instead of taking a deep look at our own imperfections we can pick apart theirs.

Brian Bowen said...

dang Tony, I dont know how you dropped off my reading list. I think it was when bloglines messed up and I lost all my feeds. But Im glad I found you again.

I like the way you think


Tony Myles said...

That's a great insight, Katie. And you're right - it's easier to look for a perfect politician than it is for us to become a world changer... letting that change start first in our own lives.

Brian - Welcome back, Kotter