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True leadership comes naturally

Some thoughts in the aftermath of local elections.After voting, while floating down Little Cloud trail, I followed a moth of the most fragile pastel purple. At some point in the trek, our roles reversed, and the moth followed me. It occurred to me that we were engaged in a delicate, intimate dance, and that this was a metaphor for our everyday relationships with each other and our environment. I thought about the aphorism regarding a butterfly, and how the beating of its wings could cause a tsunami on the other side of the world.There is so much power in even the most delicate and subtle movements and actions that I feel compelled to ask: Why do we perpetuate this old-school bull-dozing, bullying, begrudging mentality? In the recent local elections (and certainly on the national level), it appeared that some of the candidates – in keeping with the mythos of the wild west – felt the need to prove themselves a “fighter,” and some of their comments took on a snide tone. Rather than making angry denouncements or passive-aggressive accusations, it would have behooved the candidates to reveal their experience and wisdom by answering each question, or speaking of an opponent, as if he/she were dealing with a person who was simply mistaken. Playground politics is so unattractive.The West needs a new mythology – and Aspen should lead the way. Being the biggest bully, biggest manipulator or throwing the biggest punch is so passé. None of this is what makes a leader great. It is “right that makes might,” and not the other way around. A great leader is one who most easily detaches from his/her ego needs, and puts the welfare of all the members of the community above all else. A true leader doesn’t create factions: “us or them,” “with us or against us,” “ruling elite versus socio-economically disadvantaged.” A true leader seeks to unify for the good of the whole, not for the benefit of an elite few. A true leader observes and recognizes the uniqueness and potential of every member of the “tribe” and endeavors to create opportunities that allow each individual to become fulfilled on every level. If the definition of a wealthy man were to evolve into: one who has the freedom to express his true talents and gifts and to live in an environment that nurtures those gifts – then it necessarily follows that jealousy, resentment and crimes against humanity would be greatly lessened, if not altogether alleviated.The Industrial Revolution brought great technological advances to our society, but consequently, our sole focus on materialism has created an unnatural, unhealthy imbalance, and our narrow focus must expand to include something of a far more soulful nature. Instead of programming people to fill their homes and garages and basements with bling bling, let’s fulfill America’s destiny and truly light the way to freedom. Let’s start by teaching our citizens to fill that hole inside, that yearning for something more, with more of ourselves, rather than with more food, drugs, booze and meaningless crap. We are becoming a nation of soulless zombies who are passively allowing others to program us as to what the pinnacle of success is (mortgages, credit, 401Ks?), rather than discovering for ourselves what type of reality we are here to create.During recent elections, it was never particular people or personae that inspired me. It was their actions. And it struck me that win or lose, these people are winners. They are real people who live, work, play, and love, in Aspen. They care about their neighbors and are willing to stand up and be accountable. I admired the dogged perseverance of candidates who kept plugging away despite opposition from people who had huge opinions about where candidates should be directing their energies, but who will never run a campaign themselves.Kathryn Preston is a resident of Aspen. Editor’s note: Soapbox runs weekly on the Sunday opinion page. This spot is a forum for valley residents to comment on local topics. If you’d like to contribute, contact Naomi Havlen at The Aspen Times at 925-3414, ext. 17624 or e-mail nhavlen@aspentimes.com.


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