Good leaders are out there — always have been

Over 60

In one of her comic monologs back in the 1980s, Phyllis Diller said, “I went to Hollywood hoping to become a star overnight – because I heard that’s how it’s done, overnight.” The audience roared; it was popularly known about such transactions made to “make it” in that Sin City.

Now, with the whistle blown on Harvey Weinstein’s machinations, a flood of similar atrocities reared their ugly heads – and added to the burden of daily similar ugly news: ubiquitous news of politicians in high offices, of church clerics, people of wealth & high positions caught performing “droit de seigneur’ – to a growing suspicion that all’s not’s right with this world.

As one writer in The Week magazine, concluded: “It’s no wonder our faith in once trusted institutions is in decline.” But to look into the past tells us that there were MANY times when t’warn’t so. Bad exceptions did exist – but there was also proof of gold among the dross; even decadent Hollywood once had its salad days of moral films and praiseworthy talents.

For example: In 1945, MGM revealed a great woman scientist of the age, MADAME CURIE, a Polish born physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. The leading roles in that heartfelt bio/drama were two of Hollywood’s stars lauded for leading praiseworthy lives both on and off the screen: GREER GARSON and WALTER PIDGEON. Wonderful inspirations like these did exist!

And in another world of entertainment, performers have managed to keep their family lives quietly from the public’s eye while focusing on their positive contributions: Some, like MARTHA GRAHAM, who rose from a determined life in California to invent a new way of classical dancing, soon to become known as the most influential dancer and choreographer to grace the stage. She was the first dancer to perform for FDR at the White House, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and at the time of her death in 1998 at the age of 96 was named the “Dancer of the Century.”And while her private life was at times bumpy, she held herself proud for her achievements, leaving behind a public legacy of inspirational observations, saying, “Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.”

Among the highest politicians whose private lives revealed ugly scandals, there is one standout example 0f many to the contrary: WINSTON CHURCHILL, one of the greatest best known statesmen of the 20thCentury. Though born into a life of privilege, he dedicated himself proudly to public service. His legacy is a complicated one: He was an idealist and a pragmatist; an orator and a soldier; a defender of democracy (especially during WWII). He had his enemies, of course, but for many in Great Britain and elsewhere, he is a hero who flooded the press with brilliant examples of his courageous leadership. saying among his many approbations like his “sweat, blood and tears” war statement, that “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another.”

Among great men of spiritual faith is poet and artist KAHLIL GIBRAN, born in Lebanon, later famous in the USA for his slender book of inspired messages, “The Prophet”, came these inspirational comments:

“Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity.”

“Trust in dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.”

“Yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is today’s dream.”

“Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit.”

And among the fine, unheard of masses of people of faith and religion, one spending her life with the poor in India, MOTHER TERESA rose in history to prove by example the possibility of love and devotion. When awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she said: “By blood I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.” She formed a group of women to follow her willingly into the dire Indian world of the pathetically poor and sick; and to recognize her contribution to serving humanity, after her death she was canonized a saint by Pope Francis in 2016. Her creed: “Love the poor as God would have done.’

Good leaders do abound.

Moral: If we are plagued with greedy, destructive leadership today, we can always find contrary examples living here, now, and before. Let’s hope their popularity in the press takes over from the lesser “leaders” of our times.