Leadership message written by Charles Malik,Offered to Alejandro Kuri,on his election as World President of WLCU (with the warm congratulations of “The Lebanese Heritage” Team)
I respect all men, and it is from disrespect for none that I say there are no great leaders in the world today. In fact, greatness itself is laughed to scorn.
You should not be great today- you should sink yourself into the herd, you should not be distinguished from the crowd, you should simply be one of the many.
The commanding voice is lacking. The voice which speaks little, but which when it speaks, speaks with compelling moral authority- this kind of voice is not congenial to this age. The age flattens and levels down every distinction into drab uniformity. Respect for the high, the noble, the great, the rare, the specimen that appears once every hundred or every thousand years, is gone. Respect at all is gone! If you ask whom and what people do respect, the answer is literally nobody and nothing. This is simply an unrespecting age- it is the age of utter mediocrity. To become a leader today, even a mediocre leader, is a most uphill struggle. You are constantly and in every way and from every side pulled down. One wonders who of those living today will be remembered a thousand years from now- the way we remember with such profound respect Plato, and Aristotle, and Christ, and Paul, and Augustine, and Aquinas.
If you believe in prayer, my friends, and I know you do, then pray that God send great leaders, especially great leaders of the spirit.
A great leader suffers in a hundred different ways, and keeps his suffering to himself.
A great leader survives both his suffering and the fact that nobody knows anything about it.
A great leader loves being alone with God.
A great leader communes with the deepest the ages have known.
A great leader knows there is a higher and there is a lower, and he always seeks the higher, and indeed the highest.
A great leader fights against the spiritual forces of darkness and disintegration, both in his own soul and in the world.
A great leader overcomes himself, rises above himself, daily, minutely.
A great leader is very polite, but he never tones down the truth just to please others.
A great leader never seeks fanfare and publicity- they come to him, and often he rejects them.
A great leader never craves the approval of the world- in fact he often intentionally provokes its disapproval.
A great leader hitches his wagon to the remote, the unattainable, the stars.
A great leader does not worship quantity, multiplicity, perpetual motion- he stubbornly sticks to the one or at most two ultimate truths that there are.
A great leader is very simple, but the moral force of his conviction shines through every tone of his voice and every gesture of his hand.
A great leader lets the oneness of his interest burst forth with endless creativity.
A great leader is absolutely fearless- fearless because he fears only God.
A great leader loves, not sentimentally, not by making an effort, but with the effortless overflow of God’s love for him.
A great leader identifies himself with, and is not ashamed of, the deepest in his own tradition.
A great leader is never disturbed by the fact that other traditions too have their own deepest.
A great leader is decisive, yet with the utmost tentativeness and tenderness.
A great leader, under God, does not care if he is crucified- there is something he knows and sees in the distance infinitely more important than to avoid crucifixion.
A great leader knows what the Bible calls “the fullness of the time”, I mean the time in which he lives, and God gives him the grace and the power to fulfill that fullness.
You insult a leader if you call him great; he does not want your judgment; he wants only to please God.
A great leader calls forth the most secret and the most sacred impulses of those whom he leads.
A great leader leads those who are not even aware that they follow him, but only rejoice in the fact that he leads them.
A great leader is at the forefront of danger, be it physical or moral danger, when danger strikes.
A great leader heals….
And so, if we really believe, my friends, we should pray, and work together, and accept suffering and sacrifice, and we should have the courage of our convictions when it comes to the deepest we know.
For the greatest single evil today is this blanket of fear and intimidation spread all over the world, so that people do not dare to stand up for their convictions.
But nothing great has ever been accomplished in history, nor indeed can it ever be accomplished, except through fearless courage in the face of the greatest terrorization. This is the now-forgotten way of how really to live- I mean, the way of the Cross. The world needs today the unterrorized man- indeed, the unterrorizable man.
by Dr. Charles H. Malik
(with the warm congratulations of The Lebanese Heritage Team)