Today’s guest lecturer on leadership is the prolific author Henri J.M. Nouwen who will be quoting from his book The Wounded Healer .
Mr. Nouwen…(polite applause)
Compassion must become the core and even the nature of authority.
The compassionate man stands in the midst of his people but does not get caught in the conformist forces of the peer group, because through his compassion he is able to avoid the distance of pity as well as the exclusiveness of sympathy.
Through compassion it is possible to recognize that the craving for love that men feel resides also in our own hearts, that the cruelty that the world knows all too well is also rooted in our own impulses. Through compassion we also sense our hope for forgiveness in our friends’ eyes and our hatred in their bitter mouths. When they kill, we know that we could have done it; when they give life, we know that we can do the same. For a compassionate man nothing human is alien: no joy and no sorrow, no way of living and no way of dying.
This compassion is authority because it does not tolerate the pressures of the in-group, but breaks through the boundaries between languages and countries, rich and poor, educated and illiterate. This compassion pulls people away from the fearful clique into the large world where they can see that every human face is the face of a neighbor. Thus the authority of compassion is the possibility of man to forgive his brother, because forgiveness is only real for him who has discovered the weakness of his friends and the sins of his enemy in his own heart and is willing to call every human being his brother.
…Thank you Mr. Nouwen!
And if we were to choose our leaders this way…?
(Hey…one can always hope! 😉 )