Leadership, Genocide and Mandela

Leadership, Genocide and Mandela

A client and I shared the viewing of a feature of Breaking the Set with Abby Martin on RT News channel, and in particular an interview with Keith Harmon Snow on the issue of Genocide (The White Supremacy of Genocide). Snow, a former UN investigator of genocide, made some glaring statements against governments (and corporate) influence in international genocide incidents. Following on the heels of this interview, almost as if in response to alarming claims that were made, was the announcement of the passing away of Madiba – Nelson Mandela.

The 2 events in rapid succession seem to establish the 2 extremes of leadership, and forces one to think about the reality of leadership and its context today. We infer 2 lessons that can be identified from this reality:

Keith Harmon Snow

1. If leadership is defined as willing influence – or rather the ability to influence people to willing think / act / behave in a desired way, then we see in the Genocide feature the exertion of leadership entirely for self-serving means, regardless of the effects on other people – in this case entire nations of people across the world. On the other part, Nelson Mandela is recognised as a leader who epitomizes selflessness – and stands out as a model for all persons of all ages throughout the world.

The fact that both examples centre around Africa makes the reality even more stark and profound. This illustrates an important lesson, in the fact that leadership is often thought of in the context of ‘goodness’ and high ethical standards and practice, whereas the reality is that the person or group wielding influence my be anything but. It must be recognised that the leader as a person or a group can be either positive or negative – selfless or self-serving, and either way both are leaders, regardless of the extent to which we agree with the outcomes.

2. The second point centres on the form which the messages took – both via the internet and both being broadcast throughout the world. Looking ahead at leadership and its evolution in the technological world, one cannot help but consider that we today are in an environment where ignorance is literally no longer an excuse – we have access to, and in many respects are bombarded by, information in many forms and from many sources. This can result, and seemingly is resulting, in shorter attention spans for any item of information.

That the barrage of information continues unabated would make it difficult for individuals to linger long enough on any 1 area of emphasis, or get others to commit to a cause over a sustained period. The leader of today through tomorrow would need to be constantly vigilant of not succumbing to manufactured consent (as noam chomsky put it), but resist the digital influence of negative forms of leadership.

In essence, where we live in an environment of ready information access, the rejection of negative leadership becomes an obligation. This is reflected in the life of Mandela, and shrouds the issues around Genocide. As Mandela himself said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” The information is there. The question is would we use it to change the world? Would we even commit to make this world a better place? For those disinclined, John Milton says it best: “They who have put out the people’s eyes, reproach them of their blindness.”

You must be logged in to post a comment