My friend Harvey drained his stubby and belched, as Jerry Garcia took out the Grateful Dead track with a masterful piece of playing; frenetic, yet soulful.
He allowed a moment of silence, then ventured, ”Apropos of nothing whatever, one the lesser things that Napolean is remembered for is his eloquent summing up of leadership. He said, ‘No man can lead who does not create a vision for the future. A leader is a merchant of hope‘.”
That’s Harvey for you; all the time he’s sitting in his shed listening to the ‘Dead melting the window panes, he’s thinking.
But getting back to the Little Corporal, and setting aside the sexism of the times, I could forgive a man – or a woman – a fair bit for stringing those words together in that order.
And it got me thinking. Where are our Merchants of Hope, today?
On the one hand, we have Abbott saying, “Just get rid of this deceitful/incompetent/lying (circle whichever adjective he’s using on the day) government, give me the keys to the Lodge and all will be….
Well, what, precisely?
How will all be? How will I be? Does Tony have a clue? Does anyone? Maybe, but all we’re hearing about is how awful it is now, not how and why it will be wonderful in the future he’d lead us into.
Then we have Julia talking up a Carbon Economy.
Fine, at least she’s giving us a clue, but exactly what is a Carbon Economy? The phrase conjures a world of Toulouse-Lautrec sketches, all charcoal on white. What does one look like? What would be my role in it? Or anybody else’s role, for that matter? Nobody’s explaining.
It’s because nobody – with the possible exception of a few theorists deeply embedded in the dismal science, (Economics) - has the first clue about what a Carbon Economy will look like. From anyone’s perspective.
Here’s the truth of it. The Gillard Government is smart enough to know that the science is right.
The world is rapidly warming.
We busy and proliferous humans are the cause.
Time is running out to fix our mess enough so we don’t leave our descendants a sceeroodup planet.
Other nations are taking action, and as the world’s worst per capita polluters, it behooves us – I really love saying ‘behooves’; it reminds me of the Charles Durning character in, ‘Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’, a cinematic gem – anyway, it behooves us to get our asses into gear and do something about it.
Now, if Julia would just put that out there, straight up and down; how we could become world leaders in climate technology, thus creating thousands of jobs. And that while leading the world in fixing global warming we could also reduce many other forms of pollution; that eventually millions of kids wouldn’t suffer asthma, and so on, well, I could get behind that.
Maybe I could even get excited about it. Possibly, just possibly, even get my ass into gear.
Yesh, Napolean and Harvey are right. Leaders are merchants of hope. At least, they should be.
But, sadly our lot only have one item on offer; enough fear to scare the crap out of us.
There’s an unending market out there for that little product called ‘Hope’.
Pity our merchants don’t have any in stock.