We are all waiting for him but he won’t show. We believe he will solve all our problems. A big daddy, a father figure, strong, compassionate but at the same time assertive, someone who knows what is necessary.
Someone who will tell us what to do and what to think even if we don’t understand why. Someone who will look like a father with a cuddly paunch because we like them a little overweight.
Someone who doesn’t talk too much but when he does speak you know he means business. Someone with a sense of humor because people who take themselves too seriously should not be taken seriously.
Someone who is decisive but not hasty, we’ve had enough of those. We expect him to rise slowly from the couch, to walk slowly, to start wars slowly, if at all.
There is something touching about how much people our age are waiting for him. In every other place in the world, people are waiting for children. In England, the leader in the polls is a 41 year old guy named David Cameron, a leader of the Conservative Party. British media are calling him the new-new leader, kind of British humor. Tony Blair needs to go home because he was only the ‘new leader’; not enough compared to the really new.
Bill Clinton, in comparison is already home. He is the same age as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and has been retired for six years already. At the age of 46, he was president of the world’s mightiest superpower. At the age of 54 he left politics. Clinton was a great president but no one believed for a moment that it was possible to trust him with our eyes closed. Adults don’t trust anyone completely, part of the pain of growing up.
“Today’s leadership crisis is unprecedented,” we say to one another. As if Golda was a bombshell of charisma and Eizer Weizman a model of clear thinking.
No, the real crisis is not one of leadership but one of ideas. When was the last time you heard a really new idea? When were you told something that caused you to stop and say, “I need to think about that”? What the hell good are all those stories that Barak and Bibi have changed if their ideas have not?
It's about change
A father’s role is in fact, partly, to change as little as possible. They understand that the children won’t know how to cope so they stick to the familiar – the same easy chair, the same plaid bathrobe and the same glass of hot tea on Shabbat evening. After all what kid would want to meet their father at a nightclub bar, wearing leather pants and flirting with the female bartender?
So our leaders – father wannabes – don’t change. They are already so paternal that it is impossible to distinguish among them. They all have the same graying hair, same cautious manner of speaking, and the same positions so that even a microscope won’t help to tell them apart. “Don’t worry,” they tell us, “Dad will look after everything.” Nice of them but dads who are too authoritarian often raise weak children.
It’s not our leadership in crisis, but us. Puberty finished a long time ago but we still want someone to make our decisions for us, give us allowance, and tell us what time to come home from Club Lebanon.
The defining moment of a child’s transformation into an adult is when he begins to see his parents as they are: People with flaws, with problems, good and bad. If they are smart parents, they know how to give us space.
An intelligent parent needs to choose the moment when he forces his children to take responsibility for their own decisions. He doesn’t want them coming to him at age 59 complaining their lives were less than perfect. Kiddo, the really good dad says, what do you want from me? It’s up to you now.
So what exactly do we want from our leaders? We want them to be everything. We want them experienced but not part of the system. We want them stable but quick to respond. We want them focused but enabling the job to get done. We want them smart and wise and also educated in Torah.
It’s nice but the only time in life that you will meet such a man is when he takes your tiny hand in his big one and takes you home from nursery school. And you will look at him from a height of three feet from down to up and know you are safe, you are calm because your dad came.
But dad will not come so get used to it.