Justina Condensa is one of our HapKiDo instructors and recently wrote a paper for a school assignment. The topic was Leadership and she wrote about the differences between being a good leader and a bad leader and what qualities each possess.
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In history, there have been many leaders who have been great, and others who have been terrible. The great leaders remembered the roll they played in the people’s lives, and strived to make each person benefit from it. The great leaders throughout history would use their concentration, morality and wisdom to ensure they were leading to the fullest. Nonetheless, the terrible leaders in history have neglected those three very important attributes. Instead, they have replaced the good with three bad attributes, which are greed, delusion and anger. In the Roman Empire, there have been many leaders, some of whom eventually led to the fall of Rome, and they all had the same attributes in common in leading to Rome’s demise. The leaders of the Roman Empire continued to fail because they led with delusion, anger and greed; instead of morality, wisdom and concentration. When the leader neglected the three good characteristics, it caused the downfall of that leader, and eventually, Rome.
There are three causes of suffering, the first cause being greed. Greed is, “a burning desire, an unquenchable thirst, craving, lust; we want objects of our desire to provide us with lasting satisfaction, so we feel fulfilled, whole and complete” . Greed can corrupt leaders very rapidly. Leaders often desire to have the most power and control. They’re blinded to the good because they only see what their needs are in order to help themselves. Greed causes the leader, and whoever he is leading, to both suffer. With greed, the leader will eventually experience extreme anger, and he will spin out of control.
The next cause of suffering is anger. Anger is, “when there is a conflict or perceived enemies around us, our mind is neurotic, never calm; we are endlessly occupied with strategies of self-protection or revenge,” it’s a poison. . Anger clouds people’s judgments. When people or leaders are angry, they are ruled by this suffering. Anger leads to violence. The leader will act based on his emotions and wars often break out harming his people and others. Many leaders also become angry if they are not on the top and this leads them to take drastic measures in order to ensure they are. With this sort of control and power, they begin to misjudge reality.
The last cause of suffering goes hand and hand with the first two. If a person allows the first two sufferings, anger and greed, into their life, the third will surely follow. The third cause of suffering is delusion. Delusion is thinking something is one way, when it is actually not that way at all. It “is our wrong understandings or wrong views of reality” . When someone begins to get greedy and angry, reality becomes a distant memory. The leaders are controlled by their emotions, or as they say in Latin, their “furor”. This often causes one to lose sight of what is really important. Having these three sufferings eventually led some of the emperors of Rome to their own destruction, as well as their entire city’s.
There once was an emperor named Tiberius, who was the successor of Emperor Augustus. Tiberius was a good leader in the beginning because he listened to his mother. His mother was able to keep Tiberius and his emotions in line. However once his mother died, Tiberius was filled with anger and rage. Tiberius was angry that his mother had to die, and that she was gone forever. At that very moment, something in Tiberius changed. Tacitus, a senator and historian of the Roman Empire, writes, “The emperor himself became tyrannical-or gave tyrannical men power” (pg.157). Slowly, as his anger set in, so did greed as well. He began craving more power; therefore he limited the freedoms of speech. He would kill anyone who said the slightest bad thing about him. He wanted complete control of what others were saying and doing in his kingdom. As time went on, Tiberius started to exhibit the final cause of suffering, delusion. It got to the point where Tiberius was so scared of being killed, he decided to leave Rome. The greed and anger filled his mind, and his emotions controlled him. Therefore, Tiberius started to see things in a way it was not. Tacitus writes, “Now, after long consideration and frequent postponements, Tiberius at last left for Campania” (pg.186). Tiberius thought that everyone was out to get him; therefore, he lived the rest of his life in constant fear. Tiberius tried to do everything he could to keep his power. He would kill innocent people, and take money from the poor, and those sufferings would lead to his downfall. One day, he got very sick, and no one could stand being around him anymore. On his death bed, Tiberius was smothered to death. Tacitus writes, “…ordered the old man to be smothered with a heap of bed clothes and left alone. So Tiberius died, in his seventy-eight year” (pg.226). Tiberius died alone, driven by his emotions to his death. He let his “furor” control him; his emotions blinded him from the truth. Therefore, the three sufferings became his reality, and the truth was lost.
Another Roman leader that had the three causes of sufferings was Nero. Nero was a very deranged man. He became emperor after watching his mother kill his step-father, Emperor Claudius. The rightful heir to Rome was Claudius’s son Britannicus, Nero’s step-brother; but because Nero’s mother wanted power, she made Nero emperor. From a very young age, violence was instilled into Nero. Nero’s mother, Agrippina the Elder, was very manipulating and violent. She wanted to have complete power of Rome through Nero. However, Nero saw through his mother’s act. His mother did not like how Nero was neglecting her and not giving her enough power, so she threatened to tell everyone who the rightful heir to the throne was. In this moment, greed and anger took over Nero. He did not want to lose his power, and definitely did not want to share it. Therefore, he did what his “furor” told him he had to do; he turned to violence and rage. He killed his step-brother, Britannicus. Tactics writes, “This worried Nero. As the day of Britannicus’s 14th birthday approached, he pondered his mother’s violent behavior…” (pg. 290) Nero became violent and angry, which led him to kill his own step-brother in order to continue to rule Rome. As time went on, Nero continued to let anger and greed rule him. Nero once got so angry; he kicked his wife down the stairs killing her and their baby. Tacitus writes, “Soon after the games Poppaea died. She was pregnant, and her husband in a chance of anger, kicked her” (pg.384). After that, Nero realized he was too angry and too greedy. The third cause of suffering began to sink in. That night Nero was paralyzed with delusion. He thought that someone was going to come and kill him. Tacitus writes, “But Nero only understood the horror of his crime when it was done. For the rest of the night, witless, and speechless, he alternately laid paralyzed and leapt to his feet in terror, waiting for the dawn which he thought would be his last” (pg.317). For the rest of Nero’s life, he lived in fear that someone would kill him. Eventually the three sufferings did lead Nero to his downfall. The people Nero was supposedly leading, all decided that Nero was no good. They decided that he was not going to help them at all, so Nero was killed. The three sufferings over took him and his emotions controlled every move Nero made.
Despite all of that, there were good leaders. The good leaders led with the three virtues to overcome the causes of suffering. They understood that one cannot let his emotions control him. Instead, a good leader must control their emotions. Leaders must rule with the Latin word “pietas” and their duty. The first way to overcome the suffering is morality. Morality is practicing what is right and exhibiting it. One must choose what they think is right, and stick to it. This must be a very strong belief, because ones morality is the reason the three sufferings stay away. Morality in a way is “pietas”; one must use their duty to fulfill what they need to do.
The next way to overcome suffering is through concentration. According to Webster dictionary concentration is, “The action or power of focusing one's attention or mental effort.” One must be able to focus on what is right. One has to know how they want to lead and how to get it done. One must be focused and determined. They have to know what their “pietas” is, and lead with it.
The last way to overcome the sufferings is wisdom. Wisdom is “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.” Concentration and morality go conjointly with wisdom. One must have enough concentration in order to attain adequate wisdom. Wisdom takes time, and contemplation. Also, to have morality and practice what is right, one must be well educated in that area. Therefore, one must encompass wisdom. St. Augustine, an early Christian theologian and philosopher, writes, “It was through wisdom that all things were made…” (pg.432). Wisdom is an important part of life, and with it leaders become stronger.
There once was a Catholic bishop named Ambrose. He was the bishop of Milan and he stuck to his morality. He did not let anything stop him from forgetting his “pietas”. One day, the empire of Rome brought in a man named Augustine to put a stop to what Ambrose was preaching to the people. At this time, the Roman leaders did not like the Catholics. They felt threatened by them, and were afraid that the Catholics would overtake the empire. However, this was not the case because Ambrose was a kind man who chose to share God’s message. When Augustine arrived in Milan, he started to attack Ambrose’s religion, but Ambrose did not lose his morality. He continued to preach and lead his people towards God. Ambrose was concentrated on his religion and his mission he knew God was calling him to. Augustine writes, “Ambrose was habitually available to serve them in their needs, and in the very scant time that he was not with them he would be refreshing either his body with necessary food or his mind with reading” (confessions, pg.133). He was well educated in his faith; he knew what he had to do in order to fulfill his “pietas”. Ambrose contained wisdom in these areas. Ambrose changed the life of many people, including Augustine his enemy, because Ambrose led with concentration, morality and wisdom.
Because of Ambrose’s leadership, Augustine became the next future leader. Ambrose was an important influence in Augustine’s life. He converted Augustine to Catholicism, and today Augustine is a very important figure in the Catholic faith. Augustine has written many books, and has helped many Catholics understand their faith in a better light. He once had two of the three causes of suffering, greed and anger. Augustine had a lustful heart as well. His life at one point was controlled by his greed for women and the thrill that sin brought him. And, because of his desires and greed, the next suffering found him: anger. Augustine started to become angry at the world and at himself. He craved the truth and morality. And until Augustine met Ambrose, he could not find the virtues Augustine so desperately craved, but once Augustine did find him, he found his truth. Augustine writes, “nonetheless I listened to Ambrose straightforwardly expounding the word of truth to the people every Sunday, and as I listened I became more and more convinced that it was possible to unravel all those cunning knots of calumny in which the sacred books had been entangled by tricksters who had deceived me and others” (Confessions, pg.135). Ambrose showed Augustine the truth, and because Augustine found his truth, he was able to overcome the causes of suffering. Augustine let go of his greed for lust, and all the anger that followed it. Instead he replaced these sufferings with virtues. Morality overtook Augustine, and he concentrated on the Catholic faith. Because of his new life and acceptance, his life began to change. He began to become wiser in his life and faith. The three virtues filled his mind, body and soul. His conversion was able to affect so many lives then, and still now so many years later. Augustine impacted many Catholic’s and non-Catholic’s lives. He was a great leader because he was able to overcome his sufferings, and instead replace them with virtues.
|Hap Ki Do Suwanee, GA|
In conclusion, the major leaders of Rome continued to fail, because they led with the wrong intentions. Tiberius and Nero were both examples of how leading with emotions or the Latin word “furor” can cause suffering. There are three causes of suffering: anger, greed and delusion. Once the Emperors had all three of these sufferings, they refused to change, and it eventually led to their downfall. One must have a desire to change; otherwise the sufferings will overcome them. These sufferings will drag a person down, and cause misery in their life. However, this is a chance for people to change. There are three virtues to help overcome the three sufferings: concentration, morality and wisdom. With these three virtues a person is not ruled by their “furor” but instead their “pietas”. Ambrose and Augustine were examples of leaders with these virtues. Augustine at one point was ruled by his emotions and had some of the sufferings in this life. Nonetheless, he had a desire to change, and his life was changed for the better. The major leaders of the Roman Empire continued to fail, because they led with their “furor” instead of “pietas”. Everyone is born to be a leader, and most decide to be a good one, or a bad one. Which will you be?
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Choe's Hap Ki Do Cumming
3020 Old Atlanta Rd
Cumming, GA 30041