Two months ago I wrote about how the lack of emotional health in our current political leadership – in particular in parliament itself – was keeping me awake at night. As if to emphasise that below-the-line behaviours aren’t restricted to the chambers, in the period since then we have seen yet another sitting prime minister replaced and continuing accusations of bullying and intimidation of sitting members, especially females.
As Ralph Ashton, executive director of the Australian Futures Project, wrote in an opinion piece published in the Fairfax newspapers, “Australia is behaving like a spoiled brat”. He lists a string of examples in which (in our language) below-the-line behaviours have prevailed to the detriment of our society as a whole.
I received a number of thoughtful responses to that last blog post, in which I asked what could be done to ‘change the game’.
Andi Sebastian rightly pointed out that there are already a number of politicians who are principled and who articulate their beliefs with clarity. She cites Fiona Patten (in the Victorian upper house) and Cathy McGowan (in the House of Representatives) as two examples. Interestingly, both are crossbenchers rather than members of the larger parties.
Andi makes the point that ‘a committed, loving and tested network (friends, family, dogs, etc.)’ and ‘a rigorous routine including yoga or meditation, exercise, good food and sleep’ is essential for any politician to be able to keep themselves emotionally healthy. This, unfortunately, seems far from the current reality, as journalist Katharine Murphy described in a long piece entitled ‘The Political Life is no Life at All’ in the journal Meanjinlast year.
Our colleague and friend Dianne Collins, who created and facilitates the amazing QuantumThink®program along with her partner Alan, sees low levels of emotional health in politics as a global problem. ‘The current status of politics is centered around staying in power, and the money that supports it. From a QuantumThink perspective, that is a cultural least-action pathway – the way the energy goes simply by automatic habit, based on limited thinking of an “either/or” mindset.’
Dianne wonders what would happen if a genuinely awakened leader spoke and stood up for ‘what’s best and right for the whole of his/her nation’. She suggests we are in a time of restructuring of our institutions, ourselves and our thinking. ‘I think “the party’s over” – the idea of political parties may no longer be an effective structure for great leadership and governance.
Geoff Smith, who leads a school for disadvantaged youth in north Queensland, sees a shortage of integrity amongst people in positions of power, and not just in politics. ‘… there appears a certain expectation within society that to succeed in one area it has to be at the expense of others.’ However Geoff emphasises that we can’t accept that this must be the case, reminding us of the well-known quote:
‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’.
In Geoff’s case he is continuing to upskill himself and ‘working to create networks of like-minded people’ as forms of action that he hopes will contribute, over time, to a change of mindset. Dianne and Alan Collins continue to change the way we all see the world. Ralph Ashton and the Australian Futures Project continue on their mission of ‘fixing short-termism in Australia’. Global Leadership Foundation continues on our mission of raising emotional health levels across the globe.
And many other individuals and organisations all over the world continue to pursue related goals.
Perhaps the most important thing of all, despite the evidence immediately in front of us, is not to lose hope that our political leadership can be better.