Having made two trips to Egypt since the Arab Spring to work with current and emerging political leaders, I closely follow its ever-changing political situation. In the past week, the protests that allowed the country to exercise its voice for democracy has turned into ugly battles between the right and left, between those feeling unempowered and those seeking to maintain their newly acquired rule, and, sadly, those with a thirst for blood and innocent bystanders. Regardless of one’s political persuasion, the devolution from democratic ideals to the desire to see only one side dictate is leading Egypt away from its original goals and toward a future in which the majority of Egyptians do not want to live.
As an infant democracy, there are bound to be setbacks, missteps and troubles, yet, what are we doing as a nation and people to support emerging democracies? As Americans we find great pride in having established and nurtured the world’s greatest democracy and we wish to see other nations follow in our footsteps. Still, we sit in our homes filled with food, electricity and sanitation that many people in the world can only dream of. We do little to enjoy the fruits of what we have deferring to the endless pursuit of material consumption to define our worth and still less to reach out to others to help them along either domestically or internationally.
People always ask me, what can one person do? Lead. Love. Take action. Love in action is leadership. So what does that mean and how does it apply to me? Read on:
· As an individual: Be a leader unto yourself, own and recognize your power to change your life and the world.
· As a family member: Who are the three to five people that mean the most to you? Are you open, honest and compassionate with them? Do you support them in becoming their best and leading exceptional lives? Do they support you?
· As a friend: Who are the people that make-up the fabric of your life? Are you setting an example of what you want to see in the world? Do you talk about what you want to see or are you living it? Are you inspiring others to be better or do you drag people down with your pessimism and fear?
· As member of your community: Through your interactions with extended family, neighbors and friends there are numerous opportunities to share your talents, skills and passions while supporting their growth and ability to lead. Are you a leader in the groups in which you work and volunteer? Are you giving your best and working toward greater fulfillment and enjoyment or are you just “getting by”? Where do you live? Why? What you are doing to be an engaged, active, contributing member of your community?
· As a world citizen: What do you see in the world that you wish were different? What are you doing right here, right now to change it right where you are?
Unlike those who crave democracy in countries where living conditions are challenging, very few people seem willing to leave the safety of their current life to create a world in which we can all live together. Tough situations call forth new strengths and all too often as we see in Egypt, the reliance on might to address issues doesn’t end when a new party comes to power. How different might things be in these democracies if those of us who have the capacity to lead with compassion, from positions of relative comfort, took greater action in our own communities and spread the wealth of democracy through inspiration, not guns and money.
The lessons of our democratic founding didn’t end 237 years ago. It is no wonder as our political leaders abandoned centrist, common sense leadership in favor of “my way or the highway,” antics that other countries quickly follow suit. As citizens about to celebrate our great democracy’s birth, perhaps it is time to look at the extraordinary gift we have been given to live in this great nation and to look at the ordinary things we can do each day to make it even better. In doing so, I assure you that not only will our country be better for it, so too will you, your family and the world.