For those who seek to offer their fellow citizens and their country honest political leadership, politics is a very tasking undertaking.
But for those who see politics as an opportunity to abuse power and public office for self-enrichment, politics is, as I have correctly observed, a business venture. And I am right to say that "one of the biggest challenges we have in the country today is to see leaders who are selfless. We haven't seen leaders offering themselves for leadership because they are selfless. People are offering themselves for
leadership because they are interested in power and wealth. They have taken political leadership as a business venture".
My observations may not be correct for all our politicians, but are certainly correct for
most of our politicians. I say this because very few of our politicians truly see politics as
a vocation to serve their people; see politics as a vocation, a way of building up society for the common good. Most of them see politics as a job, a business venture to use in one's endeavours to enrich oneself. And it is because of this that we are increasingly seeing people with no traceable records of public service of any sort, people who have never shown any interest in the welfare of their neighbours offering themselves for political leadership in the same way they would apply for any job or government contract. They are seeking public office to fulfil an ambition, and sometimes even a pleasure, and not to serve the people.
We have people who have never had any interest in politics assuming political leadership at very high levels. What is it that is bringing them into politics when they have no interest in the affairs of the people whose votes they are seeking?
What our people are seeking are leaders who see themselves as servants of the people and not their masters; leaders who are aware that politics is an area of great importance for promoting justice, peace, development and community among all. People who are indifferent to the welfare of their people cannot be leaders of those same people.
In saying all this, we are not in any way insinuating that political leadership is not necessary. An authority is needed to guide the energies of all towards the common good. And for this reason, politics needs people with the necessary attitude of mind and abilities to lead. But whoever wishes to be a political leader must be prepared to be a servant of all, and not a master of the people.
And we are told in Mark 10:14 that "whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of
all". Political leadership needs people with high credibility. So when the time comes to choose your leaders, you must vote wisely and only for people who are known for their honesty, ability, dedication and concern for the welfare of all. Vote for people who have love for their fellow citizens and their country.
It is not possible for one to be a good leader if he has no love in his heart for the people he wants to lead or he is leading.
Following from this, true leadership is a painful undertaking because it involves one giving oneself completely to the service of the people, from which one expects no material compensation, and this can be both magnificent and anguishing. And borrowing from Che Guevara, with the risk of appearing
ridiculous, we can say that true political leadership is guided by strong feelings of love and it is impossible to think of an authentic political leader without this quality. To be a good leader, one must have a large dose of humanity, a large dose of a sense of justice and truth. And such leadership has to be anchored on charity in truth. And charity in truth is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity. Love is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and
generous engagement in the field of politics.
To defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of politics. What our people need is politics that "rejoices in the truth" (1Cor 13:6).
This is not a matter of small account today, in a social and cultural context which relativises truth, often paying little heed to it and showing increasing reluctance to acknowledge its existence.
What is needed is a leadership that proceeds in everything from the common good. To love someone is to desire that person's good and to take effective steps to secure it. Besides the good of the individual, there is a good that is linked to living in society: the common good.
It is the good of "all of us", made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society. It is a good that is sought not for its own sake, but for the people who belong to the social community and who can only really and effectively pursue their good within it. To desire the common good and to strive towards it is a requirement of justice and authentic leadership. To take a stand for the common good is on the one hand to be solicitors for, and on the other hand to avail oneself of, that complex of institutions that give structure to the life of society, juridically, civilly, politically and culturally, making it the polis, or "city". The more we strive to secure a common good corresponding to the real needs of our neighbours, the more effectively we love them.
Every political leader worth his name is called to practice this charity, in a manner corresponding to his vocation and according to the degree of influence he wields in the polis.
This is the institutional path - we might also call it the political path - of charity, no less excellent and effective than the kind of charity which encounters the neighbour directly, outside the institutional mediation of the polis.
When animated by charity, commitment to the common good has greater worth than merely a political stand would have.
And this approach to political leadership reminds us of what Mother Theresa had once
said: "Love until it hurts, true love hurts." To selflessly serve others is painful and sometimes
can be very frustrating. But it is the greatest delight of life. The feeling of being near and
necessary to one's fellow citizens, to one's fellow human beings is the greatest delight of life.
Therefore, what is needed is a political leadership that is there to serve the people wholeheartedly and never for a moment divorces itself from the masses, one which proceeds in all cases from the interests of the
people and not from one's self-interest or from the interests of a small group.
All our political leaders, whatever their rank, should consider themselves to be servants of the people, and whatever they do must be to serve the people.
Their duty is to hold themselves responsible to the people. Every word, every act and every policy must conform to the people's interest, and if mistakes occur, they must be corrected - that is what being responsible to the people means.
Wherever there is struggle, there is sacrifice. But those who offer themselves for political leadership must have the interest of the people and the sufferings of the great majority at heart.
God Help Us.
Wednesday, 19 February 2014