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Do what is right, not what is popular

Aug 22,2020 - Last updated at Aug 23,2020

Are leaders supposed to be doing what is right or what is popular?

The matter is complex of course because what is “right” and what is “popular” are fluid concepts, differing from one person to another and from one situation to the next.

As we have learned from linguistics, individual signifiers have each a galaxy of signification: not one, not two, but multiple meanings or “signifieds”.

Meaning is a risky business, and what one understands in a certain way, another understands in a different way.

Nevertheless, there is an overall meaning that cuts across many situations. In most situations or contexts, we generally know what is done because it the “right” thing to do and what is done because it is the “popular” thing to do.

The aim of the former is to set matters straight, no matter what; that of the latter is to please.

Based on this distinction, one can safely assert that successful leaders do what is right, and not what is popular.

This has been the case since the dawn of history.

In today’s world, unfortunately, we have been seeing what is popular preceding and outweighing what is right.

This is crystal clear in the case of elected officials, be they presidents, prime ministers, members of parliament, etc.

And this is a global phenomenon.

The main job of officials is not to serve the people, as it once used to be or as we once thought it was, but to get elected, i.e. to serve their own interests.

To do so, i.e. to guarantee that they get elected or reelected, they do what the perceived target electorate wants or wishes, no matter how correct or incorrect these wants, wishes, or even whims are.

In some cases, in fact, we see officials swiftly and abruptly changing alliances, including those to which they have been connected for some time, in order to get the number of votes they need to win, even if the demands and philosophies of these new alliances may go directly against those of these officials.

It is the horrible age-old motto of the end justifying the means.

And one started seeing the same method at work even in cases where the officials are appointed, not elected, as the case of governmental officials in our part of the world.

This is incorrect, and this is sad, as the first casualty of such an approach is what is true, what is correct, or what is right.

No reform, no development, no progress, no renaissance can come as a result of appeasement or wanting to be popular.

Sincerity, meticulous visions, correctness and justice bring true change about; popularity or cuteness does not.

And let there be no mistake about it: While doing what is right often leads to popularity, doing what is popular never leads to what is right.

Therefore, do what is right, and not what is popular.

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