In this post, I discuss the dangers of allowing ideology alone to guide us. Competent leadership is essential for any functioning society.
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We are starved for leadership. As a country, as a society, as people of faith, we long for strong, competent leaders to guide us as we pursue our shared ideals.
Yet, we have no leadership, so we turn not to individuals, but to ideologies, to guide us.
Ideologies, however, provide broad paradigms that, without the proper guidance and perspective, scatter arbitrarily and indiscriminatingly over everything. They do not allow for nuance, exceptions, or course corrections. They are rigid, cold, uncompromising things.
They provide a mere outline for a guide. An ideology can tell us stealing is wrong, but it doesn’t tell us what to do with the man who takes a loaf of bread to feed his family.
They certainly cannot handle extremes. An ideology can, for example, teach us cannibalism is the greatest infraction again human decency, but it provides no guidance to starving survivors of a plane crash.
Ideology provides a starting point, a compilation of wisdom for life lived in a vacuum.
But life is not lived in a vacuum. And that is why we need competent leadership. We need governing officials, clergy, and administrators of all types to help us translate our shared vision into the realities of day-to-day life.
Without such practical interpretation, ideology devolves into extremism and undercuts that which it seeks to promote. Ideologies reign benevolently only in utopian visions, but utopias are much easier to imagine than create.
When we allow ideologies to lead us, we look for leaders upon which we can project those ideologies. So, the Republicans can follow an inept, inexperienced reality television star because we can project upon him all the hopes of our ideological aspirations. Democrats likewise can place their confidence in an aged man clearly not up for the job.
We don’t want hard decisions. We don’t want nuance or difficulty. We don’t want to follow anything other than the vague aspirations that exist in our minds.
And that is why we are where we are today.