Yesterday’s Breakfast Discussion in London was on this theme took as its bases excerpts from four authors.
Arthur M. Schlesinger on “Democracy and Leadership” (from his book Cycles of American History – which basically argues that leadership is essential to progress; that tiltsof course against forms of determinism. However, it doesn’t take into account the initiatives of which ordinary people are capable – indeed, have taken through history.
The excerpt from Vaclav Havel ’s Letters to Olga (Faber and Faber, 1988) raised the queswtion of how and why individuals and societies become fatalistic, resigned, cynical, apathetic and the ret.
Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha excerpt challenged the concept of the signiﬁcance of leadership in that Buddhism (and several other philosopies) belive that individuality is an illusion. Is the notion of personal fulﬁllment through leadership a mere illusion? And would such philosophy preserve the world from unnecessarily destructive egos?
Finally, there was an inspiring excerpt from the story’of Ruby Bridges , taken from Robert Coles’s book, The Moral Life of Children (Houghton Miﬄin, 1986): “There’s a lot of people who talk about doing good, and a lot of people who argue about what is and what is not good, (and) there are a lot of people who worry about whether they’re doing right or wrong, and finally there are some other folks who just put their lives on the line for what is right. They may not be the ones who talk a lot or argue a lot or worry a lot, they just do a lot”.
A spirited and thought-provoking discussion, as usual.
As someone who is at presently mostly confined to the house, I left considering what might be meant for someone in my situation by “doing a lot”.
Thanks to Maureen and to Jack who moderated the discussion.