Wise Humans Gave Us Warnings of This Time.

July 9, 2024

Wise Humans Gave Us Warnings of This Time.

May 29, 2023

I rarely get political in my daily blog, but this is a rare time. I wanted to share some wisdom with our two leading Presidential contenders, but - more importantly, to those of us who have not just the right to vote in the U.S., but have the right to advocate for better choices. Do what you will with these quotes, but just remember Abe Lincoln’s guidance, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Dear Joe, There comes a time when you have to disrobe your identity and realize the folly of clinging to power and what you know. Who might you be if you weren’t who you currently are? Jimmy Carter has been a role model of someone who’s best years were ahead of him after his Presidency and he turns 100 this October 1.

"Consider that before long you will be nobody and nowhere, nor will anything you now behold exist, nor one of those now alive. It is the nature of all things to change, to perish, and be transformed, so that in due order different things may exist and rise to being." 

― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 5, AD 170

To have self-reflection and humility when everyone is watching is the sign of a super human:

"In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself."

― Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography, 1771

Joe, I know it feels better to be a fighter than a quitter but escalating one’s commitment to a losing course of action isn’t what a wise person does. It’s what a person does when they don’t realize they have other options. Bruised egos and wounded pride are the collateral damage of younger men, not you.

“Pride goes before ruin; arrogance, before failure.”

― King Solomon, Book of Proverbs chapter 16, verse 18, 10th century BC

Dear Donald, While I’m sermonizing, I might as well offer you some wisdom or remind my fellow citizens of your blind spots. You are the Emperor with No Clothes…and what appears to be No Character. It’s hard to inject good character into a 78-year-old, unrepentant man, but if you happen to be re-elected, the world needs you to opt-into a morality transfusion. You are the role model for our children and your actions are contagious and long-lasting. 

“Kings scarcely recognize themselves as mortals, scarcely understand that which pertains to man, except on the day they are made king or on the day they die.”


― John Milton, 1660

Given that we’re living through an absurd and paradoxical time, this landmark book highlights the risks of leadership and systems that prioritize self-interest and a lack of ethics: 

“It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.”


― Joseph Heller, Catch-22, 1961

And, finally, our forefathers warned of a leader like you, Donald, so it’s essential that we tap into their wisdom as we approach this election: 

“The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the Country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on civil commotion…When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents…despotic in his ordinary demeanor—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the nonsense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may “ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.”

— Alexander Hamilton, August 18, 1792

Too many leaders stay in office long beyond their sell-by date. As my friend Adam Grant recently wrote in this NY Times Op-Ed, “Refusing to quit is not always a heroic act of resilience. It’s often stubborn rigidity. President Biden, service is not only about stepping up to lead. It’s also about having the courage to step aside.” 

America, we deserve better choices and it’s time we took bold, creative steps to pursue alternative paths. It’s easy to feel civic cynicism in these times, but don’t look away. Just remember writer James Baldwin’s famous proclamation that “not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”  

My sermon is complete. But, President Biden, don’t forget that MEA has an upcoming workshop perfectly-suited for you: Reframing Retirement: Thriving in Your Next Phase of Life in Santa Fe Sept 2-7. We’ll explore how to feel comfortable stripping away your career identity for a whole new, fulfilling life.

-Chip

Go deeper with a workshop, in person or online.

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