We need Leaders who are Virtuous
Op-ed by JP Saleeby, MD
Two striking examples of leaders who have the goodwill of their subjects and who are virtuous are Cincinnatus and Gen. George Washington. Both were war heroes who at the height of their fame and glory could have remained in power and taken over as dictators. Both however, turned the power of their position over to the people. Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus was a Roman leader in the mid-400’s BC Roman Empire who after a stellar career as a military leader relinquished power as a true Roman patrician and statesman to the masses. Taking himself out of contention to be a dictator or Cesar over the people. Likewise General George Washington after a near 8-year war fighting the British for a free and liberated new Republic could have effortlessly settled into the role of a King or Dictator of the new nation. However, he retired and gave up his position as commander of the patriot army and returned to a life as a citizen and farmer. He reluctantly returned for a two-term position as the President of the new Republic under a new Constitution. At the end of that term, which was not defined as limited to eight years he again relinquished that powerful position to return to a private citizen life.
Today we need leadership that is less focused on obtaining power for personal gains, but rather hold the virtues, altruism and wisdom of both Cincinnatus and Washington. They need to be servants of the people and true statesmen. Both the ancient Roman Republic and our more recent experiment in government as a nation of freedoms as a modern Republic have benefited from that type of self-sacrificing persona in earlier decades. It is atypical of human nature to ascent to heights and relinquish hard-fought gains to turn over the reins of power to others. A true philosopher leader with idealism, benevolence, altruism, and honor are rare finds. Even within business leaders suffer the same malady of clutching power and personal gains than the concerns of the employees that work for them or the products or services they produce. As Rome fell from grace after losing sight of what was valuable and important, I fear our nation may see the same fate soon if we don’t turn things around.