Responsible leadership, please

A photo accompanying an article from The Times in this weekend’s Press holds a poignant message. In the photo, a victim of Russian destruction of the village of Maarat Misrin in Syria’s Idlib province, is carried on a stretcher. Behind the stretcher bearers, this detail shows a white hen following along.

Behind the hen, the man with the camera may be a journalist, one of the brave (like Marie Colvin) who go into war zones to bring us stories of the effects of political manoeuvring on the people who live there.

Meantime, Putin and Erdogan “hammered out a ceasefire…to bring respite to civilians…and defuse tension between Ankara and Moscow” (The Times).

Did they spare a thought for the many women and children killed when the poultry farm was struck in the early hours of the morning?

On International Women’s Day, we might consider whether or not women leaders would make the same old mistakes. Our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is determined to do things differently by being kind and dignified and not resorting to the distasteful discourse often employed in parliament.

Another parliamentarian who was calm, measured and dignified, was the former Green party co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons, who died this week. She was disillusioned by parliamentary processes to effect significant change and concluded that “real change comes from within” (The Press, March 7).

Leadership has been shown by young people and there are calls for the voting age to be lowered to 16. Dare we hope? Greta Thunberg, and other young people inspired by her, demand that politicians account for their inaction as the planet slides into a state unable to sustain human life.

We have learnt little and made insufficient progress in leadership, even after centuries of war, destruction and greed. Hence the casual disregard for the simple, peaceful lives most of us would like to live, raising our chickens.

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