Challenging the Caribbean’s churches and civil society on leadership

Contribution – Part 20/2017

 How can we nurture fresh, clean, capable, well-informed leadership across our region?

BRADES, Montserrat, July 14, 2017 – Now, our churches host the largest voluntary social involvement in our region.  That’s simply a basic fact about our region. However, this brute fact instantly means the churches are “ground zero” in the struggle for the Caribbean’s future. So, if we are to create a fresh, David generation of leadership in the Caribbean, the churches – yes, our churches – and civil society must act. In so acting, we must address the Big frog in a dirty pond challenge, and we must defend ourselves from fresh taints coming into our region from outside. 

That puts ethical vision at the centre of our rebuilding of leadership challenge. And it means that we have a plumb-line test for those offering to “help” us or “inform” us or “lead” us: if such are cynical or disrespectful about or manipulative towards the churches and the core gospel and ethics messages handed down from the Messiah, Apostles and Martyrs, that should set off alarm bells

But equally, those in our churches, other community-based organisations and civil society who refuse to rise to the challenge to renew and refresh the Caribbean’s leadership culture – especially among our youth – are also part of the problem, not the solution.  Irrelevance, ethical blindness, corruption or cowardice in the pulpit, classrooms, lecture halls, clubs, professional bodies and editorial boards etc. are outright menaces to our region.

Education efforts, syllabuses, textbooks and courses in schools, colleges, businesses, organisations and civil society are another flash-point. Too many of these simply echo the old and new follies of the increasingly apostate and suicidal North – usually in the name of progress or even science.  Neither will it do to turn money into a god, naively running after any potential investor or alleged development “partner” who waves a fist-full of dollars at us.  Nor, does the “watermelon” strategy improve matters: repackaging failed “progressive” strategies and agendas under a green cover.  Turning politicians into messiahs is also going to fail. Yes, there is a very good reason why Marxism collapsed a generation ago and there are reasons why our region’s churches, civil society at large, educators, pundits and politicians by and large failed to provide consistently adequate, sound insight and strategic guidance at the time and since then. 

Where, too, while atheistical, godless evolutionary materialism often pretends to be the mark of being bright, sophisticated and well-informed, in fact it is inevitably utterly corrosive of morality and good governance.  For, this ideology has no foundation in it that can bear the weight of “ought,” of duty, of moral government. So, it utterly corrodes conscience once it spreads across and dominates leadership in a community.  That has been on record since the days of Plato pondering why Athenian Democracy self-destructed. Here is his key warning in The Laws, Book X[1]:

“ . . . these people would say that . . . the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them . . . These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might, . . .  and hence arise factions, these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others, and not in legal subjection to them.”

That grim lesson of history is a key part of the deep background for what the US Founders agreed to say in the US Declaration of Independence, July 4th 1776:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

In turn, these words echo Canon Richard Hooker’s Scripture driven insights cited by John Locke:

my desire . . . to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . ” [Second Treatise on Civil Government, Ch 2, Sect. 5.]

Hooker continued, citing Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics: “because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ” In short, Paul was right that the core moral law is stamped on our consciences. So, sound civil society will nurture conscience-guided reason and will seek to raise up leaders who respect God-given rights, thus mutual duty to do the right by our neighbours. This then leads to the collective right and duty to renew and reform civil society and government across our region towards the manifest good. 

Unfortunately, we hardly ever hear such ethics of citizenship and leadership ideas and challenges in our churches, schools, newspapers etc. anymore. That’s why this article highlights the question of sound, ethically based leadership vision. And no, our people are not too stupid, ignorant or benumbed in conscience to understand such matters.

[1]           http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/laws.10.x.html

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Contribution – Part 20/2017

 How can we nurture fresh, clean, capable, well-informed leadership across our region?

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BRADES, Montserrat, July 14, 2017 – Now, our churches host the largest voluntary social involvement in our region.  That’s simply a basic fact about our region. However, this brute fact instantly means the churches are “ground zero” in the struggle for the Caribbean’s future. So, if we are to create a fresh, David generation of leadership in the Caribbean, the churches – yes, our churches – and civil society must act. In so acting, we must address the Big frog in a dirty pond challenge, and we must defend ourselves from fresh taints coming into our region from outside. 

That puts ethical vision at the centre of our rebuilding of leadership challenge. And it means that we have a plumb-line test for those offering to “help” us or “inform” us or “lead” us: if such are cynical or disrespectful about or manipulative towards the churches and the core gospel and ethics messages handed down from the Messiah, Apostles and Martyrs, that should set off alarm bells

But equally, those in our churches, other community-based organisations and civil society who refuse to rise to the challenge to renew and refresh the Caribbean’s leadership culture – especially among our youth – are also part of the problem, not the solution.  Irrelevance, ethical blindness, corruption or cowardice in the pulpit, classrooms, lecture halls, clubs, professional bodies and editorial boards etc. are outright menaces to our region.

Education efforts, syllabuses, textbooks and courses in schools, colleges, businesses, organisations and civil society are another flash-point. Too many of these simply echo the old and new follies of the increasingly apostate and suicidal North – usually in the name of progress or even science.  Neither will it do to turn money into a god, naively running after any potential investor or alleged development “partner” who waves a fist-full of dollars at us.  Nor, does the “watermelon” strategy improve matters: repackaging failed “progressive” strategies and agendas under a green cover.  Turning politicians into messiahs is also going to fail. Yes, there is a very good reason why Marxism collapsed a generation ago and there are reasons why our region’s churches, civil society at large, educators, pundits and politicians by and large failed to provide consistently adequate, sound insight and strategic guidance at the time and since then. 

Where, too, while atheistical, godless evolutionary materialism often pretends to be the mark of being bright, sophisticated and well-informed, in fact it is inevitably utterly corrosive of morality and good governance.  For, this ideology has no foundation in it that can bear the weight of “ought,” of duty, of moral government. So, it utterly corrodes conscience once it spreads across and dominates leadership in a community.  That has been on record since the days of Plato pondering why Athenian Democracy self-destructed. Here is his key warning in The Laws, Book X[1]:

“ . . . these people would say that . . . the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them . . . These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might, . . .  and hence arise factions, these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others, and not in legal subjection to them.”

That grim lesson of history is a key part of the deep background for what the US Founders agreed to say in the US Declaration of Independence, July 4th 1776:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

In turn, these words echo Canon Richard Hooker’s Scripture driven insights cited by John Locke:

my desire . . . to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . ” [Second Treatise on Civil Government, Ch 2, Sect. 5.]

Hooker continued, citing Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics: “because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ” In short, Paul was right that the core moral law is stamped on our consciences. So, sound civil society will nurture conscience-guided reason and will seek to raise up leaders who respect God-given rights, thus mutual duty to do the right by our neighbours. This then leads to the collective right and duty to renew and reform civil society and government across our region towards the manifest good. 

Unfortunately, we hardly ever hear such ethics of citizenship and leadership ideas and challenges in our churches, schools, newspapers etc. anymore. That’s why this article highlights the question of sound, ethically based leadership vision. And no, our people are not too stupid, ignorant or benumbed in conscience to understand such matters.

[1]           http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/laws.10.x.html