Greatness

Take a moment to think back on a person in your life that you feel was great.  I am not going to define exactly what great means.  I will do that later.  At this time, you can define great in anyway you like.  Go ahead.  Some of you may need to think harder than others to come up with even one person.  Have you got a person in mind?  Good.  Now hold on to that person as you read the rest of this post.

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Currently our nation is facing yet another international crisis.  It should come as no surprise that internationally, the United States is possibly at its lowest respect level since the founding of the country.  We are a joke internationally.  Think about these incidents and tell me if I'm not wrong.  In the last few years we have had incidents in Egypt, Libya (Bengahzi anyone), Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, China, Russia and the Ukraine.

The NSA appears to be collecting data on everyone everywhere in the world.  We have gone to great lengths to play heavy handed with our allies in all this.  It is one thing for our allies to think we are spying on them, and quite a bit more to actually give them proof of our spying.  We have alienated everyone, and it is starting to result in loss of prestige and sales for American companies.  Exactly what we assume is happening with Chinese Government owned tech companies could be applied to our own tech companies.

All of this can be laid at the feet of our fears.  The Patriot Act was rushed through congress following 9/11.  And much like Obamacare eight years later, the ramifications to these laws were never truly understood or completely thought out.  We were told to be afraid, so we were afraid.  We gave up something precious and then seem surprised when the law was applied with much broader strokes than intended.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.  It is easy to give up a right you didn't think you needed, right up until you need it.  Then it becomes dramatically worse when you realize you could have stopped it.

This is where we find ourselves in 2014.  We are being pummelled repeatedly by international incidents.  We are failing to reinvent our economy and struggling to try to turn back the clock on jobs and training.  We have no solution to our immigration issues, because no one wants to take the hit on making the tough decisions.

The only thing that has come back into fashion is fear.  Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD).  We are afraid of everyone.  We are afraid to send our children to school.  We are afraid to enter a tall building or a mall.  We are afraid to talk on the phone, send an email or download anything from the internet for fear we will be dragged from our house by the police for doing something deemed illegal by a secret court.  We are afraid to travel overseas.  We are simply afraid of everything and everyone.

We are told not to judge all Muslims by a few lunatics, but we are encouraged to judge all gun owners by the actions of a few lunatics.  

In times of strife, you need someone great to provide a steady hand.  You need a leader you can trust to lead.  Remember that great person I asked you to think of at the beginning of this post.  By your own criteria, is there anyone in our current government that could even liberally be called great?  Anyone?
Me neither.

It is easy to look to the past for inspiration, but in all reality no one is as great at the publicity ascribed to them.  Do you think Winston Churchill was afraid during the Battle of Britain in 1941?  Sure.  Who wouldn't be.  He didn't sound afraid because as a leader he knew that if he showed fear, then those weaker members of society would despair.

Have we had any great leaders in the United States in the 20th or 21st century?  Some might cite the Roosevelts, maybe Reagan but in all fairness no one stands out.  Great speeches have to be backed up with great actions.  Name a great action by any of our leaders of the past.  Washington or Lincoln come to mind.  Both had their faults, but both had the faith in their convictions to follow the course.  There were dark times to be sure, but in the end they pushed through, and the country survived.

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I don't know who this leader is.  Maybe we have already met them and maybe they are still living in obscurity.  I only ask that this leader step forward.  Step up and show yourself.  We have never needed you more, and I am afraid that if you don't arrive soon it may be too late.  There are monsters everywhere, but when a strong leader rides in the cowards scurry for a hiding place.  They crawl back into the shadows where they belong.

Now back to what defines great.  I define great as someone who inspires you to reach your full potential.  Someone that pushes you further than you thought possible.  Someone you may not have even liked to this day, but respected for how they talked, behaved and lived.  It could be someone you knew personally or someone you only read about.  All could be considered great since through force of will they are able to move a nation forward even when a majority of the population isn't supportive.  When we find this person, I only hope that we are smart enough to listen.

We need more of the founding father's wisdom and less of the constant poll numbers driving decision making.  Just because a majority of the population thinks you should do something does not mean it is the right thing to do.  It only means that a majority of the population answered a poll in a particular way.  Greatness speaks for itself and greatness is often surrounded by the like.  One person can not do it all, but they can inspire others to join their cause.  If you see incompetent people around a leader, there is a good chance the leader is not great either.  Poor leaders will often tell you to disregard the mistakes of those around them and tend to amplify the mistakes of others to draw attention away from their own failings.

People don't change fundamentally.  You will always be exactly who you are today and even with the right PR, you are still the same person.  Take a look at all of the failed Presidential campaigns over the last thirty years.  Did any of those candidates that lost the top spot really deserve the Presidency?  That doesn't mean that the winner was the best choice, just better than the other option.  This needs to change.  We need those people who can make a positive difference to stand up and seek the highest office. Demand greatness from anyone who claims to want to lead.