Updated: Sep 26, 2022
"Liberty means responsibility. That is why men dread it." – George Bernard Shaw (Man and Superman, 1903), Irish playwright
A natural-born leader takes responsibility, and in the process makes decisions for the felt necessities of life in personal, professional, private and in public life disciplines. Although shunned by elected leaders today as an inherent trait, it is rarely developed and honed as a claim, and a right.
Jean-Paul Sartre explained in “Existentialism and Human Emotions” that man is nothing else but what he makes of himself. The Kennedys in America come from the privileged class, but they made the best of themselves in law, politics and government for a short spell of history poignantly called the American Camelot.
John F. Kennedy, in a 1961 news conference observed that “victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan.” This helped him recover mentally and intellectually after the Bay of Pigs fiasco. He never shirked responsibility, say historians remembering his heroic endeavours in the PT-109 WW2 incident.
Winston Churchill viewed responsibility equating it with greatness. M K “Mahatma” Gandhi, loathed by Churchill as the “naked fakir”, was not affected by the call of greatness. He believed that it is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts. Unfortunately, an assassin subscribed to his strongly held beliefs.
World leaders today must heed the American author Ayn Rand’s remarks that “men who reject responsibility of thought and reason can only exist as parasites on the thinking of others” (“The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism”). Many shameless leaders today give tacit expression to her astute and acute observation.