Linda Schuyler Horning: What a leader should be |

Linda Schuyler Horning: What a leader should be


Seeking solace is natural for we humans. We feel vulnerable when a pandemic of epic proportions rages on, and fear of financial collapse defines our daily lives. Climate change overshadows everything, and many of us look for someone or something to show us the way.

The good part is that we often find community in the company of others who share the same viewpoint. Many churches, schools and political organizations provide an outlet for sharing our worst fears and channeling those fears toward positive change. But sometimes the community we choose does not serve us well, such as the one that led to the Jan. 6 riot at our nation’s Capitol.

These people, mostly male, had been egged on by a power-hungry president to “fight like hell” to prevent Congress from certifying his successor’s Electoral College victory. He had no plans beyond the initial attack, but believed it was his best shot at a political coup.

A coup d’etat is the removal and seizure of a government and its powers. It is illegal and unconstitutional, but Donald Trump had run out of ways in which he could stay in office.

He’d tried bullying Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger into changing the vote count. That didn’t work, and he couldn’t rally the U.S. military to help him because they had taken an oath to defend the Constitution. He used the people who supported him to attack on his behalf, but he had no intention of protecting anyone once they’d broken the law.

I am not seeking to engender sympathy for the people who attacked the nation’s Capitol. Far from it. What they did was despicable, unpatriotic and illegal, but at some level many of them thought what they were doing was right. According to NPR Cap Radio staff, who maintain an ongoing database of nearly 300 criminal cases related to the riot, many insurrectionists were inspired by then-President Donald Trump.

A similar following arose out of the German Workers Party following World War I. Adolf Hitler tapped into their German pride and anti-Semitism, and sympathized with their dissatisfaction over the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Adolf Hitler emerged as someone who spoke to their fears and fed their worst inclinations. He rose to success as their leader because the German people thought he understood how they felt. He used that vulnerability to build a following that would ensure his rise to power.

Trustworthy leaders and role models do not look for personal gain, but rather for how society might benefit from what they do.

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, recently weighed in on what a leader and mentor should be. He said, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” Gates might have been talking about himself.

Since 1997, Bill Gates has given away over $45 billion of his wealth to humanitarian causes through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation has funded work in global health, emergency relief, education, poverty, and more. One of their goals is to eliminate malaria within a generation. Another is to arrest climate change.

At last check, Bill Gates was not looking to run for political office. Instead, Gates has set up a global climate initiative called Breakthrough Energy Ventures and convinced 28 of his billionaire friends to join him. One could say this move is self-serving due to the huge profits waiting to be made. That may be true, but I doubt if the rest of us will suffer from it. The man who participated in the miracle of the personal computer and the internet has a bias toward innovation and believes he can solve problems.

Gates also believes in a tax on carbon. “The push is the R&D,” he told The Atlantic in 2015. “The pull is the carbon tax.”

So if you’re looking for a community of like-minded people, join a more positive group. Citizens’ Climate Lobby works toward passage of HR 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. This is a group of problem solvers, not tyrants, such as the first two leaders mentioned above.

The Climate Lobby is also a less divisive group because it proposes legislation that is bipartisan and will improve health and save lives. Its dividend helps cash-strapped people, and joining is as easy as clicking this link:

Chapter meetings are from 7 to 8:45 p.m. on the third Monday of each month, currently on Zoom. Participation won’t get you into trouble with the law.

Linda Schuyler Horning lives in Nevada City.

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