J and I have been daydreaming of going away from this island for a year or two.
One of the countries I've been considering has a scholarship for a special public policy programme in English (a scholarship offered to folks in ASEAN, which I reckon is a guilt payment for all their World War II crimes against our great/grandpas and grandmas). Anyway, applying for the scholarship requires applicants to submit a very short essay to these questions -
What is your leadership philosophy? Describe key individuals and/or experiences that shaped your philosophy. How have mistakes by you or others influenced your thinking?All loaded questions. I must admit I don't have a leadership philosophy, and I am not inclined to read one of those management books to acquire one.
I think it was the FF who have once relied on the dictionary definition of politics ("the art or science of government"? I think was the reference) to illustrate the point that politics should notbe taken or entered into lightly - and by extension, politicians should not be made light of. Countries have fallen, wars have persisted, and a great deal of human suffering canresult from inept, misguided, corrupt or just plan evil political leadership.
image by J
Thankfully, none of these adjectives really apply to the state of political governance on this island. Or rather no human suffering of a more-than-usual scale has been afflicted by way of widespread poverty or physical persecution.
So why was it still difficult to find examples from the political or public policy sphere I could refer to in concocting some believable response to those questions?
Maybe its because the leadership I am familiar with in those spheres appears dictated only by shrewd calculation, the nerve to live out such calculations, and the constant, quiet state of fear and distrust they keep themselves in. All this provides little standing room for compassion, unless in some speech or a “vision statement".
Compassion is admittedly too soft and woolly, subject to exploitative mis-use. It interferes when hard-headed decisions are needed. It complicates what is an already complicated world. It is for saviors and martyrs and social workers and weirdoes. Yet what is leadership without the conviction of compassion – or public policy that does not admit compassion. Why bother "leading"?
So as I try to craft an response to those questions in my head, the prospect of moving to Tokyo for a graduate public policy programme grows less attractive by the minute (yes, enough to forgo Tokyo!). I guess those questions are well-designed after all. If anyone can answer them within the word limit of 500 words, I think they've done the right thing of applying for the programme.