We become brave by doing brave acts … by being habituated to despise things that are terrible and to stand our ground against them we become brave, and it is when we have become so that we shall be most able to stand our ground against them.

Aristotle, in Nicomachean Ethics

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I have never seen in my life the West without leadership, disunited, inert in the face of psychotic violence, brazen illegalities.  Are we devoid of leaders?  One has that concern.

Leaders lead.  But what does it take for that to happen?

For one, a leader is prepared to lead by the life he or she as already lived.  They have acted in the face of “terrible” things and are practiced in courage essential to leadership.

But how does one learn to despise what is evil?  These tastes are taught by mentors schooled in values – in virtues and in lessons of faith.  A culture teaches this – or it does not.

Leaders have lived among leaders and good habits have been acquired as a way of life.  Leadership is taught at a parent’s knee, and comes under the influence of an elder’s wisdom and experience.  Love teaches. Families breed leaders. From wisdom, wisdom.  From bravery, bravery.

In times of crisis, leaders are a calm and steady voice and presence.  Their words inspire and prevail.  Their lives have been lived in responding to challenges and in tests and they come center stage as if by providence.

A culture that lives well has many such people ready to respond, undeterred by the task and its complexity or hazard.  I think of Winston Churchill, and the words of Charles de Gaulle on character and manly authority in his The Edge of the Sword, of the practical wisdom of Edmund Burke and Pericles and of Bulfinch’s Mythology, Lincoln, Eisenhower and so many more.

Schools groom leaders when they do their job.  They do not when captivated my lesser tasks and “tenure.”

The stage now is bare.  But the soul of men and women possess what is needed. Where are the teachers to enkindle what lies within?  The voices of the brave to summon us as one?  The leader who can lead?  The ranks who live bravely and with virtue and faith?

Have we lost our way in politics and ideology, and personal demands and deeds aimed at election?  Have we become bloated with fear?  Lost discipline? Focused on our own desires, some craven and distorted, at the expense of what is virtuous, good and lasting?  Are we no longer a community?  Neighbors?  Those with common links?  Of one breed and team?  Has sacrifice fallen out of fashion? Our appearance become more than our substance?  Leisure more than struggle?

I felt as if I were walking with Destiny, and that all my past life had been but to preparation for this hour and for this trial.

These the words of Churchill upon becoming Prime Minister.  Where are our servants of Destiny?

Shalom.

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