Today I teach my graduate class about disaster and displacement – focusing on cities and policy responses. Shaped by empathy. Examples of leaders who act responsibly and who are willing to carry the weight of imperfect responses. Owning decisions and their consequences. Recognizing that each step enables some, disadvantages others. It’s all about being a thoughtful, careful steward of resources under your control. If you can’t handle that responsibility, that weight of knowing nothing is perfect and you are far from infallible, you shouldn’t lead in disasters. Or any other time.
Leadership has nothing to do with position. It has everything to do with committing yourself to an agenda larger than your own interests – devoting yourself to a cause and to a people – whether or not what is sought is guaranteed. Doing your best work whether or not the reward is in sight.
“We do good work – because we do good work.”
I’ve called out the people before who behave like feral hogs in times of struggle. Those that greedily root around for everything they can get. People profiting from pain. Finding scapegoats. Destroying everything and then wallowing in the spoils.
Disasters don’t scare me. Perhaps they should but it’s a family trait that we are not afraid when we ought to be.
What does really scare me is seeing people in power behave callously. Selfishly. Rooting around to hide from responsibility, looking for scapegoats. Picking on the more vulnerable. Trampling every tender hopeful shoot, crapping all over our efforts to protect ourselves and one another.
People we elected at the state level in Texas are behaving like feral hogs. Crapping on our efforts to protect ourselves, scapegoating the most vulnerable, running from responsibility. Making it clear that we are not their primary concern. Doing the opposite of everything we should expect from people with that much power.
They are wallowing in their own shit and mud of ambition. We aren’t even a part of their equation. That hoglike indifference scares me. Does it scare you?
*I wrote this for everyone still trying, day in and day out, to do the right thing for the most people.