With so many crises to address, it seems like the thing we need the most today is competent leadership. The incumbent heads of state seem to be preoccupied primarily with their own legacy or their own survival rather than the survival, much less prosperity of their nations. Moreover, in a globalized world, leaders cannot mind only the benefit of their own country because every country is dependent on every other country. Although everyone knows and understands this, no one seems to act accordingly. It seems like we are in for a hard awakening.
As we evolve from year to year and from generation to generation, our expectations and aspirations change, as well. A leader must therefore be one whose eyes and mind are given equally to the present and to the future. Leaders must see where humanity is heading and prepare their people for that state. Otherwise, they are not leaders but followers.
The main problem with today’s leaders is that although the world has become completely interconnected and interdependent, they lead their countries as if all that matters is their country’s own well-being. They do not realize that policies that harm other countries, ultimately harm their own country.
Worse yet, even when they do realize it, they rarely act accordingly since the human ego has evolved to a level where it does not care about anything beyond immediate rewards. Therefore, a policy that inflicts future harm is no match for a policy that grants immediate, even if false, rewards.
Having said all that, I think it is a mistake to pin the blame on leaders. Leaders are a product of their nations. They cannot rise above the level of their nations since it is the nation that enthrones or dethrones them. Therefore, more than shape the spirit of the nation, they reflect it.
If we want leaders who understand the spirit of the time and can adjust their leadership to it, we must first teach ourselves, the people, about our particular time. Then, the leaders, who will grow from within the nations, will know what to do and will have the nation’s support for their moves.
It follows that leaders will not be able to take the global interconnectedness into consideration before it becomes the prevailing mindset in the public. Even if the majority of the public does not understand or think about it, there needs to be an understanding that thinking only about ourselves is counterproductive and does not serve our personal interests.
Once leaders begin to think of the world’s benefit rather than only their country’s—or as is the case today, their own benefit—it will be possible to build functional systems that are sustainable and benefit the entire human society. When people understand that we must also mind the benefit of humanity and the benefit of the planet, leaders will design sustainable policies and will stop pitting nation against nation recklessly and needlessly. World peace and sustainable living must rely on the understanding that we are all interdependent, that we will succeed together or fail together.