Patty Dineen

The view from here

How important (or not) are leaders?

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There was an op-ed in today’s NYT titled Democracy by Other Means by Aidan Hartley.  He writes from Kenya; observes the current unrest and violence and explores the tension between too much central power and too much “decentralization.”  He writes “without functioning national institutions, decentralization becomes synonymous with mob rule.”

 He further writes “Kenyan democracy has failed because ordinary people were encouraged to believe that the process in and of itself could bring change.  So Kenya’s leaders– and often international observers– interpret democracy simply in terms of the ceremony of multiparty elections.  Polls bestow legitimacy on politicians to pillage for five years until the next depressing cycle begins.”

There is something missing between spending our time and energy encouraging the public to “be the leaders we are looking for,” and searching for the charismatic leaders who will save us.  There must be some balance of the two; neither is sufficient alone.

Hope is created and sustained only when there has been cause for it to begin with.


Written by dineenp

January 12, 2008 at 12:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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