Toronto Star’s columnist Bob Hepburn’s piece on March 23, “Why do political and business leaders treat us like idiots?” touched a nerve. I’ve been thinking about this topic for a few years, particularly after each election. Why do we vote for and keep incompetent, dishonest, arrogant, narcissistic leaders, and then get angry when they do what we expect them to do? Yes, Bob, they believe we are idiots because that’s how we behave.
Leaders Need To Do The Right Thing
Bob mentions Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau regarding Trudeau’s behavior about Chinese interference in our elections. He didn’t mention Trudeau’s several ethics violations, including how he dealt with his former attorney general, and similar incidences. Not to be outdone is Ontario’s premier, Doug Ford, and ethics surrounding the greenbelt issue. Another on his list is federal conservative party leader Pierre Poilievre’s mismatched words and behavior about the trucker convoy protesters. Bob concludes by asking leaders to do the right thing and stop treating us like saps.
Leaders in every area of society — political, business, religious, sports — apply charisma, woo their followers, then do as they wish. We exalt, and like sheep, follow them. These leaders ensure we understand whomever doesn’t agree with their views is the enemy; even some religious folks adopt this approach.
CEOs take more and more while throwing thousands out of work. Politicians listen to lobbyist who provide them benefits now or later. When conservative, liberals, or NDP come into power, they expose their false promises, leading to incompetence and money-driven greed. Several church leaders enter politics, disregarding their initial mission, and instead tout advantages of their party’s political agenda.
Mega-Church Is An Oxymoron
We are in the mega-church age. But, isn’t a mega-church an oxymoron? Mega church leaders worship power, money, and fame, and amass wealth as their flocks grow. They want more planes, bigger cars, larger homes, and people finance their lavish lifestyles — often poor people. These charlatans teach the opposite to the Bible they espouse as authority. Jesus and his followers were poor, many uneducated. Jesus did not teach how to make millions or billions; he taught how to love one another. How to share what we have with the less fortunate. How to humble ourselves. And to “be on guard against all kinds of greed,” because our lives do not comprise the abundance of possessions.
A Harvard longitudinal study found “close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives.” I read this saying long ago: “Have you ever seen a bucket load of wealth tied to a hearse en route to the cemetery?” Still, mega-church leaders and TV evangelists promote their outlandish lifestyles as desirable for their congregations.
Don’t Succumb To Unethical Leaders
Let’s hold our leaders accountable. Stop governments measuring progress by amounts they spend. That’s absurd and gives them a free pass to waste and to spend on them. Money is the result… the score. Spending efficacy is key. For instance, governments throw money at Canada’s health care system to fix it. But they don’t look at how the system uses those funds. Why do we have so many administrators in our hospitals? We should make the system more efficient and use less money with a greater focus on effectiveness.
What’s behind the lack of ethical conduct from leaders? Maybe they realize sometimes people see few alternatives and vote for them even when they are the perceived least terrible choice. So, they tickle followers’ ears with empty promises while being obnoxious, offensive, ignorant, à la Donald Trump, knowing they will get a free pass. Let’s stop allowing leaders to influence us; exercise our beliefs. Don’t be hostile to others with different opinions, learn to disagree without being disagreeable. Most of all, use our values and missions as guardrails, and reject leaders who try to lead us outside those rails as we practice loving our neighbors as ourselves.
© 2023 Michel A. Bell