Five years ago I took on the role of president of the alumni association for my college fraternity. Unfortunately, the chapter had turned into something like Animal House without the laughs. A short time before we shut down the chapter and sold the fraternity house one of the members said to some alums, “You guys could come in and get us motivated to change.” One of the more mature young men replied, “If we can’t motivate ourselves maybe we don’t deserve what we have.”
Thirty years ago in their song, Heroes, The Commodores sang, “Looking back in time we are in debt to the leaders, angels of mercy every one.” Like the young guys in the fraternity we are looking for the angel of mercy, the leader who will lead the way out of the wilderness. It seems that in three decades we would have learned the lesson the second young guy already knew.
We are the ones who have spent ourselves into the worst saving nation in the developed world. We have elected a congress more interested in pork than the folks at Barbecue Lodge or Bill’s. We demand freebies that candidates are more than happy to promise in exchange for votes. We pay more attention to how candidates look and sound on television than to what they do or do not say.
The key to the future is in the second line of The Commodores’ song about Heroes, “…if you look in the soul of everyone they can be found.” As Americans, we know what needs to be done, we just haven’t been very good at it lately. While we need leaders courageous enough to tell us what we don’t want to hear and to lead us where we don’t want to go, we already know. Whomever we elect in two weeks, it really isn’t up to them.
The second kid had it right.