Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Commonalities between Europe and the USA

One of the things I pondered was what is common between Europe and the USA, particularly related to our thoughts about leadership. The commonalities (and I know that these are sweeping generalizations that surely do not apply to all) that I see us sharing are that there is both curiosity and ambivalence about leadership, that there are very good, welcoming, and courageous people everywhere, and that positive change happens when leaders act on their convictions. No where were these realizations more evident than in my travels in Germany, a country mired in questions about leadership gone wrong and right. I respect the German people's courage in recognizing how wrong and horrifying Hitler really was. Hitler was a traitor to the German people and to all of humanity. He was a traitor because he sought to advance himself, no matter the cost to others. Germany learned (and is probably learning) from this experience and my hope is that all of us might learn and become more critical observers of leadership as a result.

As my travels continued throughout Europe, I found other amazing examples of leadership in history. Of course, the Roman empire stands as one of the great historical attempts at democratizing our world. In many ways it worked (the Pantheon above) but in others it did not (the Coliseum below).

The Doges of Venice had three governing bodies and attempted to create governance that involved and served Venetians. Did they get it all right? No. But, the fact that they were trying as early as 5th century AD is very interesting.

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