Aloneness at the Top

8

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?