Sunday, 16 November 2014

What leaders leave behind

The leaders of the G20 countries have breezed into Brisbane this week and, for those who didn't abandon the city for the coast, spotting these celebrities has become the new sport.

Obama's moved into the Marriott,  Putin's holed up at the Hilton, and Merkel's somehow found her way to Caxton Street.

It's safe to say it's unlikely we'll see such a collection of world leaders bobbing around Brisbane again in the near future.

No doubt in the days, weeks and months ahead, many will be pondering: was it all worth it?

After all, leaders are ultimately judged by what they leave behind.

We saw this recently with the passing of former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and former Premier Wayne Goss.  Australians' outpouring of grief and accolades for their achievements is something unusual when talking about our politicians.

At risk of bandying around the phrase "they don't make them like they used to", it does seem hard to believe we'll put on similar displays when the current batch's time is up.  For some I think we'll struggle to remember who they were at all.  Or worse, remember them for all the wrong reasons.

I'd like leaders to be painfully aware of the need to leave a positive legacy; that they've somehow left the place in a better place then when they found it.

And for those leaders who can't do that, perhaps their best bet is to leave behind a massive tomb so people simply can't forget you.

Napoleon's tomb
The tomb of French leader Napoleon Bonaparte provides the perfect example.  

Napoleon was originally interred on Saint Helena, where he was exiled, but today lies in Les Invalides, Paris, in a big red sarcophagus that sits in the centre of a expansive and decorative hall.

The man himself... subtle
Hopefully the grander the tomb, the more fondly you'll be remembered.  Right?

The dome ceiling under which Napoleon now lies
While few history books cast an overly glowing light on his rule, today he can rely on the soft sunshine streaming in from the golden dome under which he now lies.

Napoleon's clothes on display
Given one of the many things Napoleon is remembered for is his short stature, I can't help but wonder if there's some overcompensation at play in the grand display?

Let's hope the leaders of today won't need to resort to such tactics.

No comments:

Post a Comment