An article entitled How Moses Shaped America appeared in last week’s Time magazine, an adaptation by Bruce Feiler from his recently published book America’s Prophet. In it he documents some of the influences that Moses has had on contemporary American culture and symbolism from the Statue of Liberty to Superman. Feiler also draws parallels between the leadership of Moses and that of some of America’s greatest leaders, concluding with tips for Barak Obama gleaned from some of the experiences of Moses and the Israelites.
But there is one lesson in leadership from Moses, and possibly the greatest, that Feiler seems to have missed, and that is humility. The only descriptive term the Bible uses in reference to Moses is that he was humble.
It seems that the greatest leaders in history have had this in common to varying degrees; they all posses that innate and genuine humility that says that the cause that they champion and fight for is always sacred and untouchable. What matters is that the destination is reached, that their flock sees the Promised Land and lives the better future. Often this came at great personal sacrifice as was the case with Moses who passed away alone on a mountaintop.
But it is when the man becomes bigger than the cause that bad decisions are made, when arrogance and self importance take hold, when a leader begins to think more about his public image and popularity than the needs of his people, then his vision becomes skewed and their destiny is jeopardized. I would love to see a flow chart documenting the approval ratings of Moses, and judging by the numerous rebellions documented in the Bible I would assume that it would be quite erratic.
As for Obama, it is becoming increasingly obvious that this fundamental element in true leadership is somewhat lacking, as evidenced by the following:
1.Obama’s tendency to act without the consultation and participation of key officials. His first meeting with his full cabinet was over three months into the presidency. He has also embarked on an unparalleled number of trips abroad without Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, which is very unusual for a President.
2. Obama’s obse-ssion with TV and media exposure. During his first eight months in office, President Obama has sat down for three times as many television interviews as his most recent two predecessors combined. This is another symptom that indicates the centrality of the man over the cause.
3. Obama’s recent speech to the UN general assembly was almost nauseating in the amount of times he used the terms I, me and my.
4. Obama’s tendency to draw moral equivalents, and to use the “both as bad as each other” argument instead of making a humble effort to discover the realities and take a moral stand. This is yet another symptom of an attitude that says, “I’m bigger than this.”
5. To accept the Nobel Peace prize, as Ross Douthat puts it in the NY Times arguing that it wouldn’t have been offensive for Obama to politely turn down the award;
“It will be far more offensive when Obama takes the stage in Oslo this November instead of Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s heroic opposition leader; or Thich Quang Do, the Buddhist monk and critic of Vietnam’s authoritarian regime; or Rebiya Kadeer, exiled from China for her labors on behalf of the oppressed Uighur minority; or anyone who has courted death this year protesting for democracy in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
A leader who humbly believed in these causes and who wished nothing more than to see their furtherance would have insisted that the prize be awarded to someone who had actually made the sacrifices on its behalf.
The discerning public and a largely concerned domestic voting audience is slowly but steadily coming round to the realization that the price of Obama’s international celebrity is the surrender of America’s interests and the interests of the free world, as demonstrated by Obama’s declining approval ratings at home.
The most immediate and compelling cause of global concern is the necessity to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Will Obama have the humility to do whatever it takes? Or will he continue to assert that the force of his character will tear down the walls of the Ayatollahs fanatical aspirations? Either we reach the Promised Land of a nuke free Iran, or like Neville Chamberlain, Obama will eventually be assigned to the trash can of history’s most disastrous leaders whose personality allowed them to distort realities and put the lives of millions at risk.
The Author is the director of the Algemeiner and the GJCF and can be e-mailed at email@example.com