xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Minnich: Leadership shows when you let it

Nothing beats a pandemic to slap humans into mindfulness about what matters. But even then, we run off the rails.

It’s especially scary when you suspect you’re not sure of the truth.

Advertisement

That results in the overreaction we saw this week as shoppers became as locusts gleaning the markets of the land. When you don’t know what to believe you go into the ultimate survival mode.

It may seem that the most important thing in life is having 72 rolls of toilet paper in the house. The store shelves look like news footage of the shortages in Venezuela.

Advertisement

Women who are probably nice mommies were wheeling grocery carts down the aisles with a purpose akin to the Nazi Panzer assault during the Battle of the Bulge.

We are in jeopardy not only of a silent and invisible virus but of being permanently disabled by a rolling load of canned soup and Spaghetti-O’s.

If my light tone is unseemly, it’s really a wry reaction to the chaos broadcast on every television network, over the radio, in the papers, and in not so casual conversation at the random cash register.

A few calmer voices plead for us to put aside partisan politics, and I believe that most people would gladly welcome mature and consistent leadership instead of electioneering.

Yes, we need information; but no, we don’t need the self-serving, pep-rally, rah-rah everything’s good act from a president who is so obviously out of touch with reality.

Nor are we served by the shrill drama of critics. The media serves us better when it corrects the information but does so without malice. More reporting, less venom is in order.

The best news of the past day or so is that the president seems to be listening more and talking less. He is at his best when he lets Dr. Deborah Birx explain what is happening and respond to reporters’ questions. With her experience and temperament, she is the hero of the week, in my view. She does not shrink from the pointed questions, nor does she play to the presidential ego or partisan rhetoric. She brings a level of credibility and competence that inspires faith that we will get through this. Battered, perhaps, and certainly with losses, but the adults are in the room now in the candid assessments of Birx, and Dr. Anthony Faucci, and other leaders who step up to the microphone when the politicians will relinquish it.

Public relations and image-building might win an election, but it takes competence to lead a nation through crises. These past weeks have been the nation’s most significant test. Yes, the media’s message is heavy, but news professionals are seeking facts in a landfill of lies and shining lights in shadows cast by spin-merchants.

The gatekeepers of the news media will stop criticizing elected officials when they stop making false or self-serving statements. Credibility is a key component of leadership, and when a significant characteristic of the people in charge is deflection, disingenuousness and self-aggrandizement, it challenges faith.

You can’t restore a culture’s greatness with marketing. Americas’ greatness is essentially human decency in a democratic system that looks out for the rights and well-being of everyone.

If anything good comes from the reminder of our mortality under the shadow of a plague, it reminds us that life does not need to be one excitement after another. It’s a time for quiet reflection, appreciation of the human being next to you or down the hall, riches that are not acquired online or in a high-priced store.

Our nation has the DNA to come together. Let the professionals do their jobs and support them, and it’s OK to keep the politicos accountable. With the appointments of people like Birx and Faucci and others to lead the way, signs of real leadership show at all levels.

Advertisement

Dean Minnich retired from journalism and served two terms as county commissioner. His column appears every Thursday. His email address is dminnichwestm@gmail.com.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement