Opinion

Leaders must act with civility at all times

Leaders must act with civility at all times
  • If you cannot be civil with your peers, surely the same cannot be expected from children.
  • Civility allows for tolerance with each other, and to disagree maturely and with that much needed respect.

Religious and political leaders have been up in arms demanding they be accorded their due respect, or else!

Pastor James Maina Ng’ang’a, in an insulting rant to his bishops, demanded that his wife should be respected. Paul did not have this in mind when he wrote: “Rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”

Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko, in his Madaraka Day speech, addressed the county’s women representative Esther Passaris, saying: “Mimi sio bwana yako ati niwe nashika simu saa ile wewe unataka. Kwa hivyo hapo tuheshimiane.” Nothing new here, just everyday patriarchy armed with spouses as a sword for verbal attack.

If this is how respect is being demanded, can the same trite phrase ‘Respect your elders’ be imposed on children? No, it cannot, “you hypocrites”.

This isn’t about being respected, it’s about wanting to be feared and revered like a semi-god.

If this was truly about respect, this unfortunate form of rebuke would have been done in private, but where’s the shame in that?

ASSAULT

That would have been too respectful not only for the leader but their ‘accused’. Who wants that when I can hurt you and put you in your place for the whole world to see?

Now, in this call for respect, you have tainted a beautiful virtue turning it into gaslighting. Is it any wonder ‘elders’ are finding millennials to be disrespectful?

Take a curious look around at the application of this adage. Adults don’t seem to be respecting their elders, let alone themselves.

Just this week, the principal of St Stephen’s Girls Secondary School incited students to pelt journalists with stones.

To hold a position of such influence and use it badly, are children then that gullible to accord this respect?

Oh civility, where did we lose you that a leader is now forced to walk out of an insulting public function?

MODELING

Whatever our differences are, civility demands that we are polite and courteous in our speech.

Civility allows for tolerance with each other, and to disagree maturely and with that much needed respect. But in its absence, a heap of abuse takes over to the embarrassment of everyone.

If you cannot be civil with your peers, surely the same cannot be expected from children. You did not lead by example so those failing in your expectations can be excused, right?

If we are going to keep imposing obligations on each other then everyone has to play their part. Children will respect you if you lead by example. Fall short of that and your time will be up.

FEAR

Roles will be reversed with children leading you by example and showing respect is given accordingly not demanded.

It’s only fair considering we have had reasonable expectations that our leaders will lead us on the virtuous path.

Nobody ever earned respect by demanding it; you only earn fear, resentment and insubordination.

But if you feel so inclined, go right ahead; let’s see how that works out for you. In the meantime, don’t subject us to intolerable rhetoric; you will not earn any respect.

The writer works with international businesses on commercial litigation.