However, it seems as if the greatest leaders all share a certain spirit — a spirit of moral courageousness, a belief in principle rather than the transiency of the times, a sense of vision for the future.
It is this type of leadership we need in Northern Ontario today and it is a new generation that must take up the baton.
Robert F. Kennedy is one of my all-time favourite politicians. His book, “To Seek a Newer World,” has become my Bible. I do not necessarily agree with Kennedy’s political orientation, but in my personal life, his book has been a guiding light in any leadership role I undertake.
Kennedy articulates a spirit of leadership decidedly absent in today’s world of political expediency. It is a spirit focused on taking courageous stands and that looks to the future not to next week, even in the face of public derision.
Indeed, one of Kennedy’s most memorable quotes articulates this.
“Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their peers, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change.”
Youth, Kennedy said, have a “predominance of courage over timidity” and in this sense the future of Northern Ontario rests on a new generation.
In Sudbury, it is certainly not time to rest on our laurels. Continued diversification of the economic and educational sectors will be a challenge. The potential for a cultural or artistic industry in Sudbury is clear. We need leaders who understand this potential and young people will need to lead, courageously, in this new direction.
However, many young people do not see these big decisions being made by leaders. Many have turned off from politics completely, seeing it as a series of photo ops, as a club to which they do not belong.
They are not necessarily wrong. However, this belief is to their detriment and the detriment of our city. Public service and leadership need not be seen as a way for people to move up society’s proverbial ladder or a way to get into an “insider’s club.”
Public service is a chance to make a difference, a chance to make the difficult decisions we need to make for the future.
It was a sense of public service that re-greened Sudbury’s landscape. It was a sense of public service that envisioned Sudbury as a hub of post-secondary education.
If young people realize that taking an active role in leadership is the best way to make change, regardless of ideologies or parties, we can truly build for the future. Without them, we will have a lost generation.
For the future challenges we face, young people need to look for opportunities to lead and not be afraid of disapproval. We need to take responsibility for our own collective future. We cannot put the responsibility for our challenges on past generations or lay blame at any particular altar.
We must show our propensity for courage over timidity. We will need to foster a leadership style that makes bold decisions while looking to the future, even if the end results are not readily apparent. Now, it is our time to pick up this mantle.
Mark Mancini is a political science student at Laurentian University and the vice-president of the Students’ General Assembly. Northern Life published a series of weekly columns on the topic of leadership in the run up to the city’s first Leadership Summit, which starts today at Laurentian University and Science North.