It’s a question of leadership

June 5, 2009

 

Remember when GM was one-third of Detroit’s vaunted “Big Three?”

No more. Nope, there’s not much “Big,” or anything else, for that matter, left in GM, Chrysler or Ford these days; except all that bailout money, of course.

So, what happened?

They – We – lost our way.

We mortgaged our futures for short-term gains. It’s all about the M-O-N-E-Y.

You know; “Let’s all line our pockets today. Somebody else can worry about tomorrow. Unfortunately, somebody else never showed up. So, we’re the poor saps left holding the bag. For us, it’s all about D-E-B-T.

Decades earlier, my civics teacher tried to warn us. He said this day would come. We all laughed.

The year was 1968. I hadn’t opened a book the entire year and it showed. But, hey; it didn’t matter. I already had been accepted at Western Illinois University for the fall semester. What? Me worry? This was my Senior Year and I was not about to let school-work stand in the way of having a little fun-fun-fun in that warm Chicagoland sun.

Civics? Give me a break!

Now, we had grown used to our teacher’s stern warnings and lectures; the admonitions; the open frustration; the quiet screams of someone who had lost control. Our bodies may have been seated politely at our desks, but our minds definitely had left the building.

So, we weren’t prepared when he just started shaking his head and laughing — at us.

Then, he fell silent.

By the time he spoke, we all were squirming in our chairs – anxiously awaiting the bell.

“I know,” he said, “you’re Seniors. You think you’ve got it all figured out. Sure, it’s funny not to pay attention; not to study. But you know what? Someday you people are going to get exactly the government you deserve. I just hope I’m not around to see it.”

Yep. That day is here. No doubt about it – we’re saddled with the government WE DESERVE.

I’m not blaming the Obama Administration. This wagon started rolling down hill long before Obama tried to grab hold of the presidential reins. I know. Obama’s supposed to save us, but from whom?

Here’s the real bottom line?

We can’t afford to wait for someone else to step in and save us. It’s time we do it ourselves.

After all, all these people we keep electing are supposed to be working at our behest. They’re our employees. Why do you think they’re called public servants? What we need to do is force government to run like a business.

OK. But who will provide the leadership?

That’s easy. Leadership begins with us.

I know. I know. It’s a lot of fun to blame the crowd in Sacramento or Washington, D.C. for all that ails us as a society. It’s a much safer strategy, too, because avoid having to face ourselves or hold ourselves accountable.

We can kick back and have a little fun, just like I used to do in civics class. But look where that got us.

No. We definitely need to try a different approach.

I know. I know. It’s not going to be easy and it won’t happen over night – soul-shaking transformations never do. But we have to start somewhere, and soon, too. There’s more at stake here than mere dollars and cents.

This is about common sense and pulling together and working for the common good, as well as standing on your own two feet.

So, where do we begin?

Accept responsibility. Demand accountability.

We must demand more and expect more from ourselves and each other before we can demand or expect more from our leaders. We must set the standards and establish the parameters of what are acceptable and necessary government functions. In business, we call it a mission statement.

For example, was it a good idea to give away billions and billions and billions of taxpayer dollars to bankers and CEOs and other assorted corporate mucky-mucks who violated our trust?

No one asked me or you, either.

Maybe my civics teacher was right. Maybe I, and the rest of my classmates, did get the government we deserve.

I can tell you one thing, though; I’ve started paying attention. I just hope it’s not too late to get things moving in the right direction again.

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