Where did all the good and kind people go? You know, those who make eye contact and hold open a door for you with a big smile and a slight bow. Someone who responds to your greeting, when you walk by on your way to the grocery store. Or those who altruistically offer to help you, merely because they suspect you need it.
Is it me? Am I reaching that phase in life where you nag about the present and yearn for times long gone? When the air was crisp and you could hear the birds sing in the early morn? I’m not sure; yet I just can’t help wondering what ever happened to those our genuine everyday heroes.
Growing up, we all have role models; people we look up to. As a sixth grader (old school system), I admired my schoolteacher. She was young, bright, drove a red beetle and oozed independence. She was the first teacher to acknowledge my English (writing) abilities and corrected the other kids when they teased me for being geeky. I wanted to grow up and be just like her.
Then there’s my father. Of course, my favourite hero of all times. He was not a highly educated man, but he had a very sharp mind and a twinkle in his eye. An affectionate and kind man. Forever respectful and always ready to help you out, whether he knew you or not. One of the last true good Samaritans. They definitely don’t make them like that anymore.
These past twenty odd years, I’ve seen the Netherlands change. It used to be that we wanted someone to lead us, who was clearly more intelligent than we ‘mere mortals’ were. Political role models like Ruud Lubbers, Dries van Agt, Joop den Uyl and Hans van Mierlo.
Three were former Dutch Prime Ministers (Lubbers, Van Agt and Den Uyl); one Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister (Van Mierlo). We admired them. Revered and respected them for their knowledge and their wonderful intellects. Whether you were friend or foe; agreed or disagreed.
So what’s going on? It looks to me like nowadays, where our leaders (and role models) are concerned, there’s not only a lack of factual knowledge, but there’s also a void of social and emotional intelligence. And most of us seem to be okay with this.
Call me old school, but I still adhere to the 3 principles of true leadership: Responsible, Honourable and Knowledgeable. That’s all you need. The rest is rubbish.
Believe me, it’s quite easy to ridicule and insult the person next to you. Any moron can do that. But it takes real character and guts to be a true leader or a good Samaritan. To be a genuine everyday hero.
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