Reading Time: 3 minutes By Joreth (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Here is another guest post, this time from Martin Zeichner. Thanks muchly to him. Today’s lesson, whether in terms of politicians or the police, is “Do as I do”:

Ascertaining what it takes to be a good person has long been a subject of philosophical writing. A great deal of ink and uncountable photons have been devoted to the subject. And it is a very broad subject. You might consider this to be my current two cents.

There is an old saying (attributed to Charles Erwin Wilson, Engineer and later Secretary of Defense for then-President Eisenhower, nominated in 1953) that, “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.” (the more correct quote is, “…because for years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa.”) This bit of Americana, the misquote, has become, imnsho, part of the underlying rationale of “Run the government as though it was a business.” of the GOP.

“…The country…” is a bit limiting. Policy regarding foreign governments has always been a part of how the citizenry of a nation sees itself in relation to the rest of the world.

There is a Forbes article that is worth reading: ‘What’s Good For GM Is Good For America’—What Should You Do During A National Crisis?

The page contains a link to this piece: #8CANTWAIT is a campaign to bring immediate change to police departments.

However, I disagree with one of the fundamental statements in the Forbes article.

The single most important lesson of leadership is that talk is cheap.

I think that it should be:

The single most important lesson of leadership is that leaders lead by example.

In other words, the message that, like it or not, a leader conveys is not “Do as I say, not as I do.” Rather it is “Do as I do.” It’s not that I think that the author (or the editor) of the article is wrong. Talk is cheap. But I disagree about the priority.

Many people are leaders. Frequently, people who are leaders are themselves followers of other leaders. In this way, the influence of an early leader can be felt by many other people through the medium of many different kinds of technology. Those technologies might be (in many different languages and translations) the spoken word, the written word, the printed word, the recorded spoken word, or even the recorded video. Each technology and language has its own characteristics. There are also long dead leaders whose messages get garbled or confused over the years, (or centuries) through reinterpretation, and so they are not present to defend or justify themselves.

What I am saying is that leaders can give their followers tacit permission to behave in certain ways with their own behaviour. When a leader behaves unselfishly, they can unleash unselfish behaviour. Inversely, when a leader behaves selfishly, they can unleash selfish behaviour. It then behooves everyone who considers themselves to be a leader, to be circumspect in everything that they do or say.

I am writing this using a highly sophisticated communications technology. One that has the characteristic of subsuming all other technologies. All other technologies become content for our current technology. With our current technology, no bit of behaviour goes unobserved or unremembered.

The words “Privacy”, “History”, “Form”, “Content”, “Liberal”, and “Conservative”  have associations that are very different to us than they had to our parents or grandparents. We are becoming more and more tribal with time. Humans change as their culture changes. Their culture changes as their technologies change. Especially those technologies that are on the edge of our awareness. But that’s the subject for another post.

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...