/A time for a change

A time for a change

By Jim Poling Sr.
From Shaman’s Rock

The changes that show we have moved from winter into spring are almost complete. Most ice has gone from lakes and ponds. The woods are brown and bleak without snow.

Well, not totally brown and bleak. Bits of pale colour flicker in areas lucky enough to have young beech trees. 

These beeches stubbornly refused to drop their leaves last autumn and held them tightly to their branches throughout the brutal winter. Their blanched and shrivelled bodies dance in the breeze, fake signs of life in the still sleeping forest.

Juvenile beeches, and some young oaks and hornbeam, don’t turn off the sap flow to their leaves in the fall. Most trees do, allowing a blocking layer of cells to form between the leaves and their branches, causing the leaves to die and fall.

No one seems to know exactly why these juvenile trees don’t follow the usual process and insist on keeping their withering leaves in winter. They finally drop them in spring when new leaf bud growth forces the old leaves off their branches.

There doesn’t seem to be any advantage to holding on to leaves in winter. It’s almost as if these young beeches simply don’t want to accept change.

Watching the wilted leaves flutter aimlessly in the breeze starts me thinking about the state of our human world. We need so many changes, yet like the young beeches we stubbornly hold on to old thinking, refusing to accept change.

We won’t get needed change until we confront our leadership issues. Recent years have seen failed leadership throughout the world. 

COVID-19 and conflicts like Putin’s war have brought failed leadership clearly into focus. We have somewhat okay, but mediocre, leaders like U.S. president Joe Biden, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, and the clownish Boris Johnson of Britain. 

Decent enough folks, but not the strong, decisive leaders we need for these critical times of armed conflicts, climate change, infectious disease, food insecurity and refugee crises.

It is our own fault. We have the leaders we deserve. We continue to elect them through a political party system no longer suitable for the times. 

Our political party system is based on ideologies – my party’s thinking is better than yours. Yours stinks, so elect ours. 

We need to elect leaders who take the best thinking from wherever they can and build policies that change the serious problems facing our world. Leaders not beholding to any party or ideology. Leaders who do not fear making decisions that might cost them votes.

Ukraine has provided an example of the type of leadership we need here. Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses his people unshaven and in a T-shirt. He is genuine, saying what he is thinking, not what he thinks others might want to hear.

When Biden offered to evacuate him from his war-ravaged country, Zelenskyy replied: “I need ammunition, not a ride.”

Effective leaders speak plainly, but forcefully, unafraid to talk about their dreams and their mistakes. And, they just don’t talk about wrongs that need to be righted – they push ahead to fix them.

Easter weekend provided an example  of a leader making difficult change despite vigorous opposition from those opposed to change.

On television was the 1968 religious movie The Shoes of the Fisherman, in which Anthony Quinn plays the newly-elected Pope Kiril who shocks the Catholic Church hierarchy by announcing that all the church’s wealth, including its art treasures, will be turned over to help feed starving people. 

Pope Kiril’s shocking decision to make change, instead of just talking about it, is pure Hollywood fiction. Fiction, but food for thought.

Our society and election processes have become so tribal it is almost impossible to accomplish any important change. We need to change our thinking about leaders and how we elect them. 

Shocking as it may seem, maybe it’s time to toss out the political system that provides leadership and governance based on the thinking favoured by one group of people.

We are all in this together and working together to elect honest, authentic and decisive leaders is the only way we will achieve the changes needed to solve the world’s problems.