Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Good Leaders have a Noble Spirit

The Wall Street Journal, Tue. June 10, 2008, had a review of a book, Nobility of Spirit by Rob Riemen. The review was written by Darrin M. McMahon. To bolster the legitimacy of this book, we are told the idea came from Thomas Mann's essay, "Adel des Geistes," which is "Nobility of Spirit" in English.

In Dr. McMahon's review, he says of Mr. Riemen, "It is the role of thinkers and writers, he [Riemen] believes, to serve as guardians of our spiritual nature and as custodians of timeless values..."

I must heartily disagree: It is your role to serve as guardian of your own spiritual nature and custodian of those timeless values you treasure. No one can do that for you.

I do very much appreciate the reference to "timeless values." My book, "Achieve Lasting Happiness, Timeless Secrets to Transform Your Life," is predicated on the belief that lasting happiness is rooted in timeless values.

McMahon says Riemen's book, "is intended as a meditation ... on the forces ... needed to sustain..." civilization. Yet, I think it is not so much ideas that sustain civilization as parents and teachers who sustain civilization. I've taught in lower economic schools, and there truly is a battle between civilization and misanthropy, between the noble spirit and the mean spirit. The battle goes on daily, and its heroes lack appreciation and support.

When I taught in the public schools, I saw many unhappy children having no idea of how to have a happy life, which is why I wrote my book and make my efforts to promote a noble life.

To appreciate how the noble spirit can give us better leaders, I suggest an alternative to Mr. Riemen's: I suggest Cicero. I suggest his De Officiis, "On Duties." The term Cicero uses is "greatness of spirit" instead of "nobility of spirit".

The book review says Mr. Riemen came upon the idea for his book at a dinner party. I was led to Cicero by my studies in Confucianism. I was looking for people and ideas from Western culture that correspond to Confucian ideals, and studied Cicero's work, On Duties, finding it very compatible with Confucian ideals.

If the next generation of American leaders would study Cicero's book, "On Duties," we would have a much brighter future.


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