Saturday, January 22, 2011

Leaderless leadership

Thursday's televised debate between Ayman Safadi and Youssef Mansour was disturbing. Safadi was vehemently defending the status quo; while Mansour was persistent in blurting accusations that are at best superficial and at worst hearsay. The end result was that the debate ended without offering any insight for understanding the frustration taking over our streets and our discourse lately.

Safadi overwhelmed Mansour with indicators that were clearly carefully anticipated and selected. In most cases these indicators were also true (I would definitely argue with the Aqaba so called Billions!!!) Mansour fell easily into the trap of Safadi by consistently being on the receiving end. He was weak in laying the grounds for what the opposition really wants or stands for. However, for anyone who thinks that Mansour’s weakness made Safadi look any better, let me just remind you of what happened in Tunisia a week ago.

Safadi could have easily been a Tunisian minister sitting in a televised debate on Al Nasmah channel defending the status quo with numbers that none of us could argue with. The question is, are these the numbers that we should be considering in evaluating our situation or in formulating opposition views. I highly doubt it. Had the revolution not taken place in Tunisia a week ago, it would still be hailed today for the progress it made on various fronts: economic, infrastructure, women’s issues, population mortality and growth rates, and many others.

Today we all know too well that any progress that does not filter down to the common man or woman on the street, is far from being called so. Stiglitz was one of the very first prominent economists who alerted us all from the perils of using Gross Domestic Product as an economic barometer for growth and prosperity.

In essence, what the leadership needs to know is that we can be selective about almost everything in life except one thing: the truth. Another thing I would add to the leadership the higher you are on your horse the more painful the fall is going to be. Empathy must definitely be the order of the day. On the other hand, what the opposition needs to know is that by definition they are opposed to something that they would want to replace. If what we saw on Friday is the alternative to the existing leadership, then I am sorry they ain’t getting my vote!

Until this leadership crisis is resolved , my motto will remain the incompetent devil I know is better than the incompetent one I don’t!