Thursday, January 18, 2018

Be careful leaders, followers mimic you

It seems that once more, one of our leaders has missed the opportunity to demonstrate to the wider community the ability to rise above divisiveness and distrust.

It is to our leaders in religion, in politics, in the judiciary and the like that our society looks to for moral guidance, a moral compass one may say.

We follow what our leaders say and do and that is natural. I remember as a little boy that I would sit at my grandfather’s feet and drink in all that he said. I mimicked his speech, his mannerisms, everything. I was sure that when I grew up, I wanted to be just like him. I adored him.

The people of our nation do not reach such heights of hero worship, of course, but still our leaders do have the power to shape public perceptions and opinions.

History is replete with examples of great leaders who, through their power of persuasion, were able to sway millions.

Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, just to name a few, were able to shape generations by their force of will if not by their oratory skills.

Our very own Dr Eric Williams so dominated the psyche of the nation, that he is universally acknowledged as the father of the nation. Leaders have that power.

I believe our leaders need to keep at the back of their minds that their actions and their words resonate deeply into the hearts and minds of their followers. It is a huge responsibility but it is one that cannot and should not be denied.

On Indian Arrival Day, the head of the Maha Sabha, Sat Maharaj, sadly missed the opportunity to use his considerable influence as a leader in a positive way.

I mean no disrespect to the goodly gentleman who I have admired for his fearlessness and passionate leadership.

What I mean, though, is that young people looking and listening would think divisiveness is the menu of the day.

Is that what we want our leaders to teach? For that is what our leaders do every day, they teach by their words and their actions.

It is for this reason that I believe when anyone accepts the role of a societal leader in whatever sphere that may be, they accept a heavy burden. It may seem unfair to some but it is inescapable, when one accepts a leadership position, along with that comes the heavy responsibility of leading and directing the soul of a society.

Mr Maharaj did not demonstrate he had accepted that heavy responsibility. His comments were not carefully thought out, they were not based on facts but were instead based on his political biases which he has a right to have but they should not be thus expounded on the national stage and not by a religious leader!

Gary S Almarales

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