Aloneness at the Top

August 23, 2016, Prescott- It’s time to take a break from the day-to-day, and think about our leaders, or those who purport to be such.  In a conversation this afternoon, the three of us noted that the school principal has an intense burden, not going out among the staff as often as people seem to want.  When she has shown up, her demeanor is pleasant enough, though the message I get is “Don’t make my work any harder, please.”

I remember having the sense, particularly in my first principalship, of being very much without friends.  My wife was forty miles away, at another school and son was only 10, and trying to juggle going back and forth between two schools, so as not to miss either of us too much.  The staff at my school was cordial, but after work, I went home to the dreariness of DirecTV and a diet of VH1.  The community, egged on by a local racist, was rather on the hostile side.

I reflected on these notions this afternoon, whilst listening to the author of a new book on Donald Trump.  He views his subject as pretty much a loner- a gladhander, yes, but one who tends to prefer his own company- outside of the work day.  Hillary Clinton seems equally a duck out of water, when in the company of strangers, after a certain amount of time.  Barack Obama is engrossed in his family unit, and the company of a small circle of friends.  Indeed, we have to go back to Bill Clinton to see a leader who relishes the crowd, and before him, all the way to John F. Kennedy.

I feel for our leaders, whether local or national.  The late Shah of Iran once remarked, in an interview with the journalist Oriana Fallaci, that, were he to have it all to do over again, he would want to be anything other than a king.  The crush upon a mere mortal has to be both deafening and suffocating.  Most people appreciate, and expect, a leader who will put him/herself aside, as it were, and rush to the side of the suffering.  Many, from George Washington on, wished to do just that- until, in modern times, the combination of security concerns, open calls for harm to be done to said leader, and the seeming ingratitude of some local communities, have led to a pullback by the Comforter-in-Chief, as we have seen in the second Obama term.

Could it be that we, the people, need to reassess our attitudes towards those whom we elect to manage our civic affairs?


8 thoughts on “Aloneness at the Top

  1. I believe that the administration is like a pyramid, with those at the top being more and more alone as the pyramid becomes smaller around. The man/woman at the top has to be very alone, partly due to the nature of the job (there’s an awful lot that can’t be shared), partially due to security issues, and partly due to their personality. The argument about the “comforter in chief” not going to Baton Rouge early enough is ridiculous — had he gone earlier, he would have been in the way of those he was wanting to help, and no comfort at all! Any change in attitude towards our elected ‘managers’ must include an awareness of the effect of leaders being in the way1


      • I believe that the mayor of Baton Rouge asked Obama to stay away until things were under some small modicum of control — but also, the President can’t win, no matter who he is or what he does, which also adds to the aloneness!


  2. That is an excellent post. It is sad at the top. And what you said about Hillary and Donald being lost in a crowd is so true. I have noticed that in Hillary. And Donald, it is when he speaks in his obnoxious way, and get praise that he shines.
    Not in the US, but even in Canada, the new PM Trudeau, seem to glow in the spot light. Which many Canadians may frown upon. But that has got him popularity among the world view. But what matters is that, he does a good job for the country. There are so many things that are happening, that is not spoken of in public.


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