Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
May 30, 2005
Follow Queen Elizabeth's lead
Queen Elizabeth II, now 79, had already made more than 250 foreign trips to 128 countries. After 53 years on the throne, she might well have wanted more to put her feet up than take a week-long trip to Saskatchewan and Alberta. But come she did, showing not only indefatigable energy but also remarkable and unfailing grace throughout her trip.
She had done all of this thousands of times before - the walkabout to meet local people, watching lengthy presentations of local culture, listening to speeches, giving a few herself and receiving tours of museums and educational institutions. And doing a good chunk of it all in the rain!
Through a trip that must have seemed grindingly repetitious of past events, she never lost her focus, p>always appeared interested in what was happening and always had a smile. Perhaps the queen's graciousness was contrived, but one suspects not. One suspects rather that she has trained herself to love (almost) every moment of this pomp and ritual.
Her patience, her good nature and her unfailing willingness to carry out her duty are a form of leadership. She shows us that the burdens of life need not be burdens if we approach them in a joyful spirit. She shows us a better way than the whining, self-pity and constant criticism so prevalent in our culture. If we all faced our duties and our burdens with the same spirit as Queen Elizabeth, the world would be a much better place.
It is perhaps one of God's coincidences that she came to Canada at the end of one of the most disgraceful periods in Canadian political history. For the past two months we have been regaled with stories of how the governing party apparently funnelled taxpayers' dollars into its own pocket; we have seen that party use billions more of public money to shore up regional political support; and we have seen the prime minister cajole a rookie opposition MP into keeping his party in power by offering her a senior cabinet post.
In the other corner, we see the leader of her majesty's loyal opposition belligerent and sarcastic at every turn, squelching those who want abortion law reform, paralyzing Parliament and aligning his party closely with separatists in his own naked grasp for power.
Watching all of this might well lead one to reflect on the monarchy as a possibly superior form of government to democracy. One need not get carried away with such reflections, but one can only be dismayed at the sight of a system meant to enshrine the will of the people degenerating into one furiously manipulated for partisan purposes.
Oswald Sanders, a British Protestant missionary, once wrote, "True greatness, true leadership, is found in giving yourself in service to others, not in coaxing or inducing others to serve you." In Canada, our leading politicians have all-too-obviously lost sight of that basic principle.
The corporate world is beginning to wise up to this. Kevin Cashman, author of Leadership From the Inside Out, says, "When leaders split off principles and purpose from profit and performance, the effects can be devastating. Because of how dramatic the devastation was at Enron and other places, I think boards and executive teams have made the connection that ethics are no longer 'nice to have' to place on top of great bottom-line performance, but that they're essential for sustainability. Without ethics, they've seen how whole businesses can collapse."
Well, without ethics, whole governments can collapse too, especially when the political opposition shows itself to be as hell-bent on power for the sake of power as the governing party.
The desire to serve the people is not something "nice to have" on top of election victories. It should be the core reason for one serving in politics. Queen Elizabeth has shown us what service really means. Will our politicians learn anything from her example?
- Glen Argan
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.