WE SHALL OVERCOME


Related image“A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labours of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.” – Albert Einstein

“Perseverance is more prevailing than violence; and many things which can’t be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little.”
Plutarch

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
Melody Beattie

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You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
 You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise. –  Maya Angelou

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We shall overcome one day in ourselves, with gratitude to our past, our present and our future. Gratitude to those who made our life and circumstances possible. Gratitude to our friends and opponents who made us what we are now or what we have been, – who shaped our response, – those who were “our teachers” in both the right and the wrong things.

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We may overcome ourselves within the things we cherish, within the positives amidst negatives, – the last being different for all of us. Different for us as individuals, different for us as a class or group as well, whether we are part of a city, state or country.

The Freedom Fighters in the US shaped the future for equal rights among black and whites. This shaping of the future was not without violence and cruelty. Non-violent struggle did overcome racial segregation, like it did overcome apartheid in South Africa with similar forces in action elsewhere many years later.  Again however, not without violence and cruelty.  People beaten, shot, disappearing, often at young age, – by their opponents. But they did overcome, marching up to freedom. Freedom land as a way of achieving, not the final goal, but a way. A way with violence to be avoided, – where possible. At least by not provoking this violence.  What we give we tend to receive. If we answer all violence with violence it makes us all blind and there are smarter ways, – ways being less destructive and more effective to bend sweltering injustice into a strapping justice of different sorts. It is the way of violence to be avoided within all reasonable dimensions.

Image: Julian BondJulian Bond, civil rights activist

Like the US was trying to control the status quo in the 196o ties,  South Africa was trying to defend the rights of minorities by compromising the rights of majorities. Many countries are still doing the same. But the non-violence movement has been neither restricted to the US nor South Africa. And still we benefit from such a movement, and the movement needs to grow as it is the only way forward to overcome man made institutional and other dangers being difficult to control. If man made dangers can’t be controlled by reason anymore, we are at risk of being controlled by defeatist perceptions regarding  those dangers, with the risk those perceptions take over at a cost of man made opportunities we have. The power of a non violence movement need to be able then to show greater leverage than the power of senseless massacres or decisions to go this direction.

Where the choice is made to make peaceful revolution impossible, the alternative however of a violent uprising is inevitable.

Peaceful change with the least possible violence is the way to overcome. A movement which should grow from Syria to North Korea, from oppressive regimes in South America to similar regimes in Asian countries. But the means by which the movement for change now tries to break through is by no means the same or fitting the Gandhi/Martin Luther King or Mandela legacy, – seems to evolve more dangerous even and perhaps more deadly. Often leaders now responsible for venom being injected to paralyze it’s people in fear, and not to speak out anymore.

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Bloodshed and massacres do not seem to stop and the question is what sort of good may come out of all of this and what sort of “reason” people or countries may come up with , without making situations at various places more explosive.  Whilst some people may feel gratitude for both the past, the present and the future, the question as well what sort of “gratitude” people may have at places in the most difficult circumstance one can imagine,  – situations like we can only recognize from war’s we have been able to leave behind. The gratitude to live for some might be replaced by the gratitude to die for others, which is the worst of all gratitude as the last gratitude we should have is the gratitude to live. And this is the preferred gratitude we should be able to share and to contribute to, if at all possible.

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The last is what we may think. But people are able to take this away from other people by the venom of hate, by the brutality of their violence, by the starvation of people. Some of them will “overcome” but not all of them. Some of them may see the new day but not all of them. Some of them may feel peace but others may have lost all peace, all gratitude, and don’t feel human anymore as their humanity has been compromised and violated on the altar of merciless torture and abuse.

It is this almost complex manifestation in nature as well, that life often comes at a cost of other life, –  whilst as human beings by nature we have the gift by choice. The last in general to change the dynamics of hate and destruction into the dynamics of a reasonable peace. Not an ideal peace perhaps. However, combined with more justice, at least the most desired option within the reasoning of our human options.  As long as we have such a desire and imagine the implications in the best possible ways, – we may attract positive outcomes if those ripples of hope are shared at the best possible frequencies of our human dimensions. With this shared gift we can change and “overcome”.

Liberation is only possible by ordinary people doing extra ordinary things by non-violence. The power of ordinary people can keep a dream alive, can move governments if so required, is able to resolve some of the dangers of war and all-out violence. Is even able to “move” people who lost their dreams as due to even an overload of prosperity. The other way around, – so to say, as people can “sleep in” through prosperity, being blind for what is going around.  However, whilst the broader movement of non-violent action resisting what persists along the lines of injustice of various kind, the question is whether the non violent approach as a starting  point is always possible to be continued under all circumstances as part of the process of liberation?

If we look at history the answer is simply: No!  Without violence it was not possible to remove Hitler and his followers. Without violence it was not possible e.g during WW2 to protect the Jews in various countries like e.g. the Netherlands, where resistance groups had to target Gestapo Officers responsible for the transportation of Jews to concentration camps, and likewise had to target collaborators who worked with the Gestapo. Without the perseverance of Brittain and the support of the US Hitler’s “Third Reich” would have had free play.  It is just an example. And there are far more and other examples as well. However non-violent action to bring required change is the most favorable and most honorable way to add to peaceful dynamics which may last. Perseverance is more prevailing than persistent violence

Let’s be grateful that despite tears, pain, hardship and even death, – history showed the growing seeds of forces turning against evil and overcome destructive powers. Therefore, still we can say “we shall overcome” even if we are not allowed to see the promised land, – we shall overcome.

Even with our confined days on this earth we have the choice to try to reduce destruction and improve life and the circumstances of those who needless suffer as due to the choices of evil powers, the last which should not to be tolerated in our times. Powers which are due to be eliminated as due to the risks they impose on humanity.

Time is slow for those in need. Time is slower for those who are desperate and time stands still  almost when people lose their loved one’s in ongoing violence. Violence  eg in Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Gaza and other areas…

Protecting of self-interest when under threat as a country is one thing. However, this should be reasonable and within proportions.  Being the captives of perceived national security threats and not being able to reach out to the voices of crippled people under the brutal forces of any military powers or secret police at times, – is hard to tolerate in a world which has been faced with so much pathological violence before. And whilst time may be slow, here  time is of the essence to resist this,  as morbid powers are not allowed to take over.

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History did teach us many lessons in what works and also things which do not work, and we can be grateful for this.  However the highest appreciation is not utter words only but to live by those lessons, to live the gratitude for those lessons and to pay tribute to those in history who did contribute to more justice and gratitude and peace for our times and all times, – even when there are still areas on this planet where this is not felt at all.

Our obligation is not an obligation to pay lip service only.

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We live in a world with increasing injustice, the last even within institutions,  – a venom if not eradicated!

Though we are limited in our endeavours, we shall overcome one day, .  as long as our dreams do last, .  as long as our unaffected efforts do not rest, .   as long as our mind conceives and believes, our gratitude does not cease, and we as people are able to fulfil, . in a way which lifts the burdens in and around us and makes us free.
Let us raise again in this dream, as to never forget, …as this is the reality of life where all men are created equal, – but most being surely more unequal through the far stretching differences and circumstances of life,  – the last for certain not always by choice.
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Therefore, –  again, and more than ever before: resist in truth what is wrong,  and persist in truth what is good  whilst protecting live as worthy as possible.
We may have fallen with our feet trodden beneath the dust, but we shall rise up again. Reminding ourselves that our lives depend on the labour of others and that we have to give in the same measure as we received, taking things day by day and step by step, – knowing that endurance is more powerful  than ferocity.
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Knowing as well that there is a place and time for the fullness of real gratitude,  and that amidst the corners of history’s shame we shall overcome one day,  as the wall’s of hatred and prejudice have been broken then, –  and mercy may prevail for our time and all times! ———–It’s a concept, a harness so to speak, an ideal, and perhaps not always applicable in the complexities of this world. But it’s the most preferable approach and guideline, just because of the complexities of this world.
Thanks!

Paul 

Paul Alexander Wolf

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The Art of Leadership and lessons from the Past – some general features


Organization clears your path

Organization clears your path (Photo credit: nist6ss)

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow”.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

Albert Einstein

Countries and organisations at whatever level are the combination of all-around “living” and existing dynamics and the art of leadership is based on the concept that it is important to mobilise the existing recourses of available people in the right direction, – at all levels if possible.

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Not always do people change that easy, not always are existing structures at certain parts of the organisation or the country due to be changed despite being desirable to have change.  Timing is sometimes crucial and dealing with people at various sections and levels is the domain of the greatest challenge of leadership.

Our level of influence is largely dependent, not only on the vision we have and the ability to articulate this, – but both as well on our ability to  build  fundamental  trustworthy relationships, empowering others and get people in alignment with the bigger picture: the vision we emphasise.

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Trust is essential but not easy. People often have different agenda’s and where other’s are not always to be trusted, leaders in essence need to be trustworthy. Integrity fires off, integrity is like a lighthouse which does not move by the principle of light, – which does not disappear and gives direction, regardless the circumstances.

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So vision, direction, a way to articulate this vision, and trustworthiness are all fundamentals of sound leadership, – besides an ability to deal with people in such a way that it gives enough empowerment and leverage to work eventually at the same page of the agenda, – where eg agenda’s have been different.

Again the level of influence to achieve this needs to be able to mobilise and energize the recourses of  management levels at all existing creative and intellectual abilities, – to work things out as they should be.

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We all know that leadership and management are  not the same. Where leadership gives direction or a vision, management is the agreed strategic to meet this vision or goal. Where the leader has the insight which direction is best for either country, organisation or any other movement, – the ability to get the workers in place and organise the work to be done in such a way that the goal is achievable is a management issue. Even at management level it is important that people are led in the right direction of things to be done according to plan, and both at the level of leadership and management effective communication is the cornerstone to resolve issues as they arise, – at times conflict as well.

Integrity at all those levels is a principle issue where corners are not cut at the benefit of the cheapest option and the  loss of values or principles.

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Hitler started a war based on the most effective army being organised at the time and was from this point of view initially successful. His leaders at the various divisions of the “Third Reich” were highly efficient and able to communicate their vision at nearly all levels of society with passion and consideration of those who followed; – but the failure of Hitler’s “Third Reich” was that the concept of both integrity and value for life was totally lost and that the goal setting and vision of the man was deeply floored from the beginning.

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For every endeavour in society at the organisational level is the fundamental question whether the vision or goal setting adds value and respect for life, – besides financial gain to support the mission. If there is no margin there is no mission. We see already in the US after the Bush Administration how hard it is to create a mission with little margins as all the previous existing margins were wasted in often pointless war’s being dominated by powerful elements in society pushing their agenda, – not rarely against the wishes of many people, and not rarely in contradiction with basic respect for life.

The world is very complex now as the traditions of securing the power base of each country with enhanced military development, based on the often ill-defined principle of “national security”, are getting worldwide more and more out of control. Strong and value based leadership is required to avoid a world eventually being totally filled up with mass grave yards as such grave yards are often not more than a reflection that conflict could have been dealt with differently, – with more leadership, integrity and respect for life.

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History will always have areas of conflict but the means by which those conflicts should be resolved can’t be the means by which we have been able to inflict destruction at a large-scale.

Leadership deals with the future, with the way valuable aims and goals can be achieved through the power of the human spirit, the last often being required to be coached and energised in the right direction. Not by the increasing power of distinct evil being much prevalent all over the word, but by the power of trust, respect for life and differences, – besides mutual distinct coöperation to cut those evils which could put us all at risk if we don’t value the future for what it really could be. Values, ethics and principles are  at the heart of real leadership as it protects the immune system of an organisation or country from the undermining elements being always present anyway.  In physical terms the “Third Reich” of Hitler was a well-developed cancer being able to grow as this country had no proper functioning immune system based on principles values and ethics. If it had been present or more powerful at the time, the forces of a proper immune system would have been able to eradicate Hitler at an early stage as he would have been never an electable person with the level of influence he had. The level or lack of principles ethics and values being developed in a country or organisation, may attract the sort of leader which fits the type of country or organisation at some extend. It may accelerate change for the better or change for the worst. Hence by proper law enforcement each country or organisation would benefit from protecting the best in values being present, at all levels. Leaders come and go, in the best scenario they push forward to the next level. However, never allow them to compromise the values and principles on which the organisation or country is based. Allow them to reach the next level of the endeavour at a certain time and place, as pioneers for a  future we all need to embrace with compassion and courage.

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The value of society of any democratic or non-democratic country can be assessed by the law enforcement on both terror ( to protect life) in general and eg  the terror of human trafficking (= the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of reproductive slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, or a modern-day form of slavery) more specific.  Some 27-28 million people are eg held in slavery all over the world in countries least expected, many of them being children.  After drug trafficking and illegal arms trade, human trafficking is the fasted growing criminal industry not being tackled with the same efforts as eg “the war on terror” in Afghanistan. How countries respond to this is only one of the assessment tools to check whether our world is a world where human life is getting more respected or not, where countries are indifferent or not where it come to proper law enforcement to cut with passion and energy the crime rate at this level and let “the slaves go free”, – support them and punish the criminals who make eg human trafficking their business.
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Like Hitler and his movement was a cancer not being eradicated before it became a worldwide disease, the metastatic cancer of various other injustice against all forms of human rights needs the power of relentless law enforcement in favour of  the universal rights of people, where ever they may live, where ever they are born, –  and regardless who the criminals are.
In more practical terms on leadership and values, with accepting  the above as the baseline for leadership, the following can be said:
Places of leadership:
They are everywhere. In any organisation, large or small. Leadership is neither restricted to the young nor the old. Some have more to it due to circumstances in life, others have less to it due to misfortune and/or ill health. However within the group of the less advantaged the greatest leaders did evolve by motivation and choice, by desire and both by skill and ability to learn the lessons life has to learn a keen spirit. Sometimes people were placed in a position to take this role on board, not by choice perhaps (the circumstances itself), – but by choice to go ahead with what crossed their pathway unintended. It was the challenge they took willingly or unwillingly on board, often when times were tough, – where they could not afford it to be indifferent in times of hardship and uncertainty. Times of adversity and crisis made great leaders in history, by choice.  The last regardless the level of wealth or first status.
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Inspire vision:
Vision can bring the best of ourselves forward in the endeavours we have to face. But let us note that there are no strict rules for this. Every time when a leader stands up we may recognise some features, but the patterns following which the new leader develops are always different. For each person the background is different and each time requires a different vision as the circumstances through life do change. The needs do change as well and the way “vision” does evolve during the trials and tribulations of life is each time again different. However one of the features of a leader is that he or she is able to inspire a broader picture which does resonate at various levels. This is however a place by choice and sometimes it takes a long way to reach this position. It is not the end but often it is the beginning with various hurdles, – but the hurdles do need faith, determination, imagination, coaching teaching and involvement. In other words this vision comes from deep inside, it is a driving force requiring commitment and getting commitment in what people want to know about their own aspirations, want to hear about their own hopes and dreams in a particular set of circumstances. Inspiring vision is a shared thing.
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The matter to be trustworthy is essential:
Whatever comes to the surface in retrospect about some leaders,  people in general want leaders to be credible as this makes it possible to follow a leader. If you don’t trust the leader it is hard to trust what he or she has to say about your hopes and dreams. Leaders show in word and deed what they believe in. They are trustworthy – as Stephen Covey once put it – “at the personal level and the interpersonal level”.
Leaders are able to articulate their own deep felt values very well and the level of their integrity is in line with what they say and do. Part of being trustworthy is caring. Leaders do care of what lies ahead and they show it open and honest, at times affectionate. They speak to the heart of people and mobilise at times the best in people, whilst learning from their needs with an integrity of action to carry out what is required. The broader context of this trustworthiness’ is felt in a wider relationship with people.
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The matter of being proactive:
Leaders have a great capacity to anticipate and take charge of situations. They act in advance of a future situation, and not just reacting. They take control and make things happen and not just adjusting to a situation or waiting for something to happen. It has to do with the importance of courage, perseverance, personal responsibility and being aware that there are choices, regardless of the situation or context. Leaders have a sense of direction and look forward to this direction whilst applying at the same time their action of choice to reach this direction, with imagination. As such making people more capable to follow and manage their own actions in line with this direction. This being proactive may well be at the personal level, but it needs to transpire at the “team level” to get sustained results in a broader spectrum. It takes both proactivity and a team to bring people to the top of the mountain, – to become a CEO or President.
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Leaders don’t work on their own, but whilst doing their own work they work in collaboration and connection.
This is the focus of getting things done.
Thank you!
 Paul 

Paul Alexander Wolf