Danielle Friel Otten, potential candidate for PA House district 155, writes:
“I believe in the philosophy of servant leadership. I will advocate for our district and I will organize to bring people together to solve challenging problems. I believe in collaboration, civility, and the common good. At the very heart of my values is a belief that it is our duty to protect and serve all members of society. Quality affordable healthcare is a right, not a privilege. All children have a right to a first-rate public education. Choices about family planning belong in the home, the doctor’s office, and in the spiritual guide of each individual’s choice–government has no place in these decisions. We have a responsibility to be stewards of our Earth and to protect and sustain our natural resources for future generations. Businesses have a responsibility to be good corporate citizens in the communities that they call home. Democracy is government for and by the people–not corporate lobbies, and not in the interest of protecting political careers. These are the values and the commitment that I will bring to Harrisburg.”
Those values, very much in harmony with CCDC’s Values and Issues, certainly resonate with Democrats. But what is servant leadership?
According to the site To Serve First, Robert K. Greenleaf gave an ancient idea its modern name in his 1970 essay “The Servant as Leader,” which discerned a human continuum from “leader-first” to “servant-first.” The servant-first is dedicated to others’ needs, including to helping others both become more autonomous and develop in turn into servants. The servant-leader, who arrives at leadership by starting with service, can be recognized by, among other characteristics, a commitment to “rebuild community.” Furthermore, “only a true natural servant automatically responds to any problem by listening first.”
These ideas have some clear implications for the individuals we describe as “public servants.” Do they (as some truly do) really listen to and serve the public? Do they help others, of all origins, to grow as caring members of society? Do they strive to enhance the community they serve? Do they care about their constituents as a community of diverse individuals?
Or (and we can all see these negatives in the daily news) do they use their position of trust to strive for personal power and wealth? Do they wish to divide and conquer rather than to unite? Is their chief priority to retain their own elected office as long as possible? Do they regard their fellow citizens only as a source of donations and votes in the next election?
How different from today might be our legislative, executive and judicial branches of government if, as a New Year’s resolution, Americans were to start invoking the principle of servant-leadership every time they enter the polling place?
[n.b. at this point in the election cycle, without implying endorsement or favoritism this site posts occasional items referencing important thoughts and issues raised by Dem candidates.]