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Does Reform Come From the Top or From the Bottom?

Mark A. Goldman                                                                       Dated: 3/7/07



Well this is a common question.  How do you change things?  Do you work to change the leadership at the national level or do you work to change things in your community?  Do you change things at the top or at the bottom?  Yes. 

It is very difficult to bring reform if people who donít want reform are standing in the way.  And who doesnít want reform?  Generally, itís people who already hold the reigns of power.  And yet right now, who is standing in the way of reform?  We all are. Most of us donít know it.  Most of us just canít see it.   

One reason we donít see it is because people at the top are standing in the way and they donít want us to see it.  The problem is that we and the people at the top have the same consciousness, generally speaking.  We elect people who are very much like ourselves.  And so the people at the top behave just as we would behave if we were there.  You might not like me saying that, because it's not always easy to look in the mirror.  But once we do it's hard to deny the truth.

To break the cycle something has to change.  One thing that can bring about change is responsible leadership.  Leadership can come from anybody and, in a manner of speaking, from everybody. 

People who have power want to hold onto it.  Generally, they will not give it up voluntarilyÖ even if we are nice to themÖ unless by being nice we mean we are willing to be subservient.  If we are willing to be subservient then they will be nice and let us play in their game.   

Electing people to office who have the same consciousness we have is probably the main difficulty with democracy.  Who, after all, is smart enough to vote for someone who has more integrity than they do or at least not less?   

Most people want to be in positions of leadership because they think that if they were only there, they could set things up so that everyone would do things their way, and if everybody would just do things their way, then everything would be just great.  

The problem is, when they get there, things don't work out great.  Too often those who get the positions they seek find they have been striving for an illusion.  Being in high office is not what they thought it would be.  They find that the only way they can persuade others to do things their way is to lie, hide the truth, misinform, or cheat.   After all thatís what they did to get there.  Thatís the only strategy they know that works.  What they donít realize is that it doesn't work forever. 

Everybody makes mistakes.  When people make mistakes there are consequences.  When people in high places make mistakes there are big consequences.  Thatís why if you donít have an enlightened, well-educated, well-informed electorate, things can go very wrong and democratic institutions are bound to fail.   

I have, in my writings, done my best to reduce things to their lowest common denominator so that anyone can understand if they want to.  In announcing my candidacy, I am offering to serve in a leadership capacity if people are really looking for leadership.  But let me tell you something about leadership.  Leaders can only be leaders when they are wanted and needed.   

If you look carefully at the lives of Martin Luther King and Gandhi, for example, history makes them out to be extraordinary individuals.  Well of course they were.  But what also made them extraordinary were the circumstances in which they lived.  What propelled them to leadership was the fact that they were asked to serve by people who knew enough to know that they needed and wanted help.  They were at the end of their rope.  Nothing else was working.  They were ready to follow someone who had a different vision.  And in the case of MLK and Gandhi, the people made very wise choices.  Not everyone wanted to lead.  It was a risky business. 

When they were asked to lead, these people were not famous, politically powerful, or wealthy. But people wanted leadership.  After all, what did they have to lose?    

In reality, it takes as much truth and courage to follow as it does to lead.  If you canít recognize the truth then you wonít know who or what to follow.  And if you try to overhaul the status quo, you can be sure that you will have to face some difficult circumstances.  You will wither under the pressure if you donít have courage.  In other words, if you want change, you have to be the change.  And you can be.  If you are reading this, then change is not that big a leap for you.  But you have to want it and until you do, these are just words on a page.

I donít know if I can make it any plainer than I already have.  If you want things to get better, you have to get better.  If you want justice, you have to be prepared to be justice, choose justice, stand for justice.  And when you stand for justice you will have to stand against a strong wind because that wind is coming at you to blow you away.   

Others pander for your vote by saying what you want to hear.  Iím simply telling you the truth.  If you want the truth, you need to be willing to live in the truth.  Iím sixty-three years old.  Iím not as young as I used to be and Iím beginning to feel my age.  As far as I am concerned, time is of the essence.  But letís be fair.  You donít really need me. You could instead... be me.  Or you can find someone else to lead who will likely tell you the same thing I'm telling you, but maybe say it better.

But no matter who says it, when you are ready, you are not going to get to where you want to go unless you are willing to stand up for what you want.  And if you want justice you will have to stand up for it.  If you choose less you will get less.  People who are willing to say anything to get elected will do and say anything to stay elected.  If you compromise your integrity hoping that it will all work out in the end, it will not work out in the end.  Not if in the end what you want is a government operating out of integrity. 

So where does reform come fromÖ top or bottom?  It doesnít come from top or bottom.  It comes from within.  There is only honorable citizenship.  Whether you are President of the United States or a citizen who works a simple job to earn a small wage, you have a real opportunity to make a difference in life.  You make that difference by being the best Ďyouí you can beÖ being honorable, telling the truth. 

I didnít ask you to follow me.  I asked you to stand with me, so that I might stand with you.  If you stand with me you are a leader every bit as much as I amÖ but only if you stand firm.  In fact, I canít be a leader alone.  Someone standing alone is just someone standing alone.  Heís not a leader until there's participation. 

Vote for what you believe in.  Continue to learn with an open mind so that you continually refine the quality of what you do believe in.  If you are honest with yourself and othersÖ if you have compassion for other peopleÖ if you are willing to forgiveÖ if you believe in justice.  Donít move.  Stand where you are, for where you stand is on solid ground.  Stand there, not alone, but with me.  And the center of gravity of the universe will shift to be aligned with us...  If you stand with me

Mark A. Goldman
Citizen and Candidate for President of the United States

Mark A. Goldman announced his candidacy for President on March 5, 2007.  This commentary is in response to questions from readers at where the announcement was posted.

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