The U.S. Senate passed a historic $871 billion health care reform bill on December 24, 2009, handing President Obama a Christmas Eve victory on his top domestic priority. Should it become law, the measure would constitute the biggest expansion of federal healthcare guarantees since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid more than four decades ago. It is expected to extend insurance coverage to 30 million additional Americans.
Fourteen days earlier, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded on December 10, 2009 the peace prize to President Obama “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples” and that they have attached special importance to Obama’s moral leadership.
Leadership always calls forth images of vision, courage, commitment, and forthright action. The leaders are usually considered as individuals who possess a clear vision of what need to be done and are capable of transforming their visions to substantial achievements. Leaders can demonstrate accuracy in their actions, enabling to defeat all obstacles and opponents to achieve their goals.
Leadership has been interpreted in various ways. Beyond those conceptions, that notion can basically be considered as an art of transforming others in the manner desired by the leader and depending of the environment. Leadership refers to a process of social influence in which an individual influences others to transcend personal interests in the accomplishment of common objective. This idea of transformation conveys the premise that leaders can profoundly alter both followers and themselves for the good if they exhibit effective behaviors, deploy the correct techniques and actions, demonstrate high ethics and imagine long term goals in a suitable environment.
Some scholars showed that there is a difference in kind between the exercise of power and the exercise of leadership, and that the difference is a moral one. The ultimate test of moral leadership is its capacity to transcend the claims of the multiplicity of everyday wants, needs, and expectations by responding to the higher levels of moral development. The transforming power to moral leadership requires a certain kind of character and a certain kind of wisdom in relation to that character. When leaders apply moral standards, public interests may supplant personal interests and the correctness of a decision depends of the soundness of reasoning that justifies the leader’s actions.
Scholars and policymakers interested in the human impact on society should read Lives of Moral Leadership by Robert Coles. This book underscores the role and determination of the individual in altering negatives in society and culture. Coles attempted to identify leadership attributes and show when and how such personalities can make an impact on environmental, institutional, and elite structures. He successfully demonstrated that leaders can impact the world through their courage, abilities, knowledge, example, and moral grounding.
A close look of the short public life of Barack Obama through his thoughts, decisions, and actions is deserved to grasp the message that true leaders work for justice. The Obama administration allowed, for example, unlimited travel to Cuba by Cuban Americans and lift limits on transfers of money to relatives on the Caribbean island. In addition to easing travel and remittances, the new rules expanded the list of gifts Cuban Americans can send to their families in Cuba and allowed U.S.telecommunications companies to do business there. Such decisions are simply morally correct!
Moral principles are tightly associated to the meaning of life. As human beings, we live either by no genuine moral rules or by absolute ethical principles. Ethical principles are either relative or absolute. We are always challenged to think about the various ways in which we make sense of ourselves, the society in which we live, the world around us, and the relationship to it. We usually analyzed current and classic treatments of meaning and sense-making in the philosophical, psychological, and cultural beliefs. After all, every human being constructs a fundamental philosophy of the basis of life, a theory of the relation between the individual and the society. This philosophy shapes the individual whole attitude of life.
Perhaps at no other time in recent history has the question of moral leadership been so acutely relevant. The global financial meltdown, the diplomatic struggle of the United Nations to reach agreement at Copenhagen on climate change, the decision of Iran to boost its nuclear program despite sharply increased concerns of Western governments and the United Nations, and the massive anti-globalization protests around the world all dramatized issues of moral leadership at individual, institutional, national, and international levels.
I salute Obama’s positive thinking by maintaining a non-judgmental approach to both other people and situations, maintaining self-assurance about oneself, being optimistic and communicating effectively. The problem for him is that, because of all his capabilities, failure is not an option. President Obama can not put us down!