Individual student leader presentations in my Political Leadership course start Monday. So this was the last week of topical content. On Monday Sam Rushay, Supervisory Archivist of the Truman Presidential Library came in and talked about President Truman as a leader. He also shared with us his unique expertise on President Nixon. Prior to working at the Truman Library he spent years transcribing the infamous, as well as the less infamous, Nixon White House tapes. He played the so-called “smoking gun” Watergate tape in class. Our discussion with Sam brought up such topics as: Why would he ever record himself committing a crime? How are electronic records saved in today’s White House? What sort of redeeming qualities did Nixon possess for him to be elected (twice!) to the presidency?
Yesterday we used the power of our whole group to discuss Chris Lowney’s book on Jesuit Leadership. We broke the book down into sections before class, with two students serving as moderators for the discussion. In a true exhibition of magis the moderators, Danielle and Caitlin, prepared discussion slides over the entire book on their own accord. It went fabulously thanks to the efforts of all! Frank Kane led the class in a reflection at the end of the session:
A better caption might be: Frank and Professor Beverlin's ongoing exchange over the work of Stephen Ambrose has the class riveted.
...Man Caitlin, it looks like you’re in the 5th hour of REM sleep back there.
Also this past Monday was a symposium on Just War given by Tyler Head, Joel Poindexter, and Professor Curtis Hancock from the philosophy department.
This got me thinking (I know, uh oh) about the conference Dr. Moran and I attended last week on ethics in the media. At the conference we heard from foreign policy correspondent Jeremy Scahill, whose most recent work centers on the Obama Administration’s drone war. If you haven’t read Scahill’s work I encourage you to do so. He is probably most known for his expose on the private security firm Blackwater (then Xi, now Academi), but has now pivoted to more broad coverage of the Middle East.
So here’s my thought; which connects to the notion of “we are all leaders all the time” rather than mere pawns in a world led by Thomas Carlyle’s great men. (Google him; or better yet, don’t). There have been great leaders who attain their acclaim not through positions of authority or the trappings of high office, but rather through what they actually do and accomplish first.
Here’s a list of five, there are many more: Dorothy Day, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Father Daniel Berrigan, and Johann Adam Schall Von Bell. Some famous, some not; but I definitely encourage you to Google them.
…and I leave you with Leadership Lessons from Vader (my dog) #3: be nice to everyone. When Vader goes to the dog park he befriends the big dogs, little dogs, fat dogs, fancy pampered dogs, 3 legged dogs, even the dogs with the choke collars that bite him on the ass.
#4. If you are going to violate norms of behavior be discreet. I don't advocate pulling a Richard Nixon, but it was amazing he freaking tape recorded it. Vader on the other hand is a master of the clandestine. I haven't scooped out the cat litter in years. Years I say! I probably don't have to spell out what's happening here. He might not understand abstract language, but could have taught Nixon a thing or two about getting away with it.
#5. Sleep more, worry less. This one is what we call "self-evident."
#6. When forming policy, think about the future. I don't want to sell my dog short here, he always focuses on the children first. Public policymakers could learn a thing or two from that.