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"The Leadership Imperative"

From the interview's preface:

In an era of self-promotion, Oren Lyons represents the antithesis of celebrity. When he converses about serious issues, no insistent ego comes to the fore, no desire to be seen as an important or wise person. His voice is but one in a long series, as he sees it, and the wisdom belongs not to him but to the tradition for which he speaks. His approach to problems is unusual in modern social commentary because his observations are not compelled by any overriding sense of the importance of the human present. In place of a philosophy of progress, he emphasizes fidelity to a set of spiritual and natural laws that have guided successful human social organization throughout history.

—Barry Lopez


From the interview:

Barry Lopez: "Native elders are often credited with being informed about the environment or knowledgeable about spiritual issues, but rarely credited with expertise when it comes to governance. Why aren't native elders sought out for their wisdom about a good way to govern, a good way to serve people?"

Oren Lyons: "Well, to put it simply, our world view, our perspective, and our process of governance is contrary to private property. Private property is a concept that flies in the face of our understanding of life, and we would say of the reality of life. Private property is a conception, a human conception, which amounts to personal greed."

. . .

OL: "And so it goes on, this idea of private property, this idea of accruement of wealth. And now we have corporate states, corporations that have the status of states -- independent and sovereign, and fealty to no one, no moral law at all. President Bush has said, 'Let the market dictate our direction.' Now if that isn't about as stupid as you can get. What he said was, let the greed of the people dictate the direction of the Earth. If that's the basis of a country, then it's really lost what you would call a primary direction for survival.

This is really the danger today -- this empty, senseless lack of leadership. But it doesn't mean that responsibility isn't in the hands of the people. To come down to the nut of the whole thing, it's the people's responsibility to do something about it. Leadership was never meant to take care of anybody. Leadership was meant to guide people; they take care of themselves."

Contents © 1966 to current, by
Barry Holstun Lopez. All Rights Reserved.