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Love and leadership will solve our problems

PhilipYoung300Ten years after the tragedy of 9/11 in New York is perhaps a good time to take a look at the state of the world and to ask what we hope to achieve in the next ten years says Rev Philip Young.

Has what we have done in response to 9/11 made the world a safer and more secure place? Unfortunately the short answer is ‘No’. The so-called ‘War on Terror’ has meant that we have been engaged in war in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Both wars have stirred up a violent response from those who oppose having foreign troops on their soil. Both wars have produced more people who hate what America and its allies stand for. More are willing to join the ranks of the suicide bombers and their terrorist masters. Surely there must be a better way than to answer violence with yet more violence? We are in a vicious circle of violence and hatred and we need to find a way out of it.
At present there is a crisis of leadership in our world. Where are the world leaders who can lead us from war to peace, from hatred to love? If we allow the hatred and acts of the terrorists to lead us into further acts of war and violence, then the problems will increase and all will continue to suffer. If we ourselves break the law by using raw violence, such as was used to kill Osama bin Laden, then we are going down the slippery slope to lawlessness and the use of further violence.
The world agenda is being dictated by hate, ignorance, terrorism and war. We are all in danger of being sucked ever further into this vicious downward spiral. We need a world agenda dominated by love, knowledge, construction and peace. The only way for the world agenda to change is to have leaders who are using positive methods to overcome the evil that there is in the world. Edmund Burke, the eighteenth century Irish political philosopher was right when he said, ‘All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing’. Even worse, of course, is when good men decide to use evil methods to try to overcome evil, for in this case, the sum of evil only increases.
9 11 pictureIn the twentieth century we have been shown an alternative that works. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King both realised that the ends and the means must both work together. In other words, that to bring about a more peaceful world we must be peaceful people. That to bring about the good that we desire we must use the goodness that is within us. Martin Luther King said it very eloquently when he said, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that’
So we have in Gandhi and Luther King examples of positive creative loving leadership and it is up to us, the people, to put in place leaders that can lead by using wisdom, love and goodness - who can reject the use of war, violence and lawlessness.
Of course the most amazing and positive leader in the world is Jesus of Nazareth, who led by serving others and laying down his life for others. He above all others broke that vicious circle of violence by his love.
Jesus loves us and showed his love for us by living for others. Our pattern of leadership needs to be modelled on his leadership and in the end, God’s love triumphs over all.
The next ten years could be different if our leaders turn away from using war and instead model their leadership on the man who came to serve others. Love will set us free. Love is the answer to all our human problems.
Love and leadership need to take centre stage in God’s beautiful world, then we can solve the problems of 9/11.
Philip Young

Vicar of St Thomas’ Heigham, Norwich              

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