Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Lincoln, Leadership Lessons and Greece
December 18, 2012
Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it. Those who learn history with the help of Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis, though, might learn how to repeat it -- better.
In recent weeks, I've watched American critics and pundits praise the movie Lincoln while calling on their leaders to re-learn its lessons. I have been impressed with Americans' seemingly inexhaustible desire to learn from their founding fathers. Spielberg's tale has tapped a deep reserve of American history that contains powerful lessons in leadership and moral courage for every successive generation. The response at the box office suggests that once again, Americans are listening.
The success of Lincoln, however, has awoken a very personal worry for me. I fear that my home country, Greece -- which has no shortage of founding principles, or ancient heritage, or illustrious former leaders -- has forgotten how to learn from its past.
After all, Greece is the birthplace of democracy, philosophy, and the international communal spirit embodied by the Olympic Games.
But today all three of those ideals are under threat in Greece. How can a democracy work when its people are jobless? How can we do the right thing for future generations? How can Greece establish a relationship with the international community not based on debt or dependency, but on mutual interests and trust?