Like most of us, I don’t have words to describe my response to the horrendous attacks in Paris last week. Sadness, disgust, horror…so many thoughts come to mind.
But wherever I turn, I see people responding to the tragedy with messages of support, hope, and unity. Take this simple image from the Amazon website:
Already, I’m heartened and moved by the incredible global response to this tragedy, by the supportive hearts and voices rising up from countries around the world. It’s a sign of the solidarity that is already coming from this unthinkable atrocity. A sign that the good people of this world can emerge from even the most painful of setbacks with more strength, resolve, and bravery than we could ever have imagined before.
Many of us have vivid memories of similar widespread unity following the 9/11 attacks, when it seemed that American flags flew everywhere.
When adversity creates this positive outcome of unity, common vision, or team mentality, it’s not only heartening to witness the growing support. It’s also educational to watch the behavior of those in charge.
In the wake of Paris, we’ve already seen some true colors of our world’s leaders. But without the benefit of hindsight, it’s difficult to know who will lead and who will manage.
In times of great adversity, many “leaders” will in fact manage. They will (thankfully) do their jobs and see to it that the appropriate actions are taken.
But a few—very few—will lead. And these few inspire belief and trust. These few are the leaders that people want to follow.
Think of Churchill during the horrific bombing of London in WWII. Before it began, experts predicted a mass exodus from the city. But the experts were wrong. Instead, Londoners showed extraordinary solidarity; every day brought acts of great courage and selflessness.
And through it all, their leader continually spoke of the positive vision for the future: the outcome of victory.
Those in charge are not necessarily those who will lead. Watch for humility, selflessness, honesty, and the few (maybe just one) who call people to the higher cause—to the vision.
I, for one, would like to see that be a vision of hope.