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Letters from an Ancient Mind

My dear young friend,

Upon the matter of your leader’s infidelity I can perhaps give you more comment. He makes the argument, as I understand you, that his infidelity has nothing to do with his leadership. Therefore you can safely ignore it, treating him with all respect.

I think not. If a man cannot govern himself, how can he govern others? Of all people in this world over whom you have control, surely you have the most control over yourself! If you do not even have that control, how then can you claim to govern others? You may have experience at writing out orders, but you have no experience as a leader.

You forget the power of example. All soldiers will follow a known leader – if they believe he asks of them no more than he asks of himself. A leader who is first in every advance and last in every retreat will see men tracing his footsteps in battle. But if your leader is at the rear, the troops will soon be with him – and the battle lost. Courage is best commanded by example. So it is with all virtue.

Your argument that his failure in marital virtue does not affect any other virtue is absurd. Virtue is not fruit in the market place to be selected at a whim. The essence of virtue is integrity – that you are a man of one-ness. You cannot be a coward today and brave tomorrow. Those whom you lead will quickly see the lack of integrity.

This leads to hypocrisy. If they see in you one point in which you have not mastered yourself, they will soon suspect all points. You then begin to hear flattering words from servants who wish as little contact with you as they can arrange. They will praise your courage to your face, and condemn you over their wine. Of greater import is this: they will follow your orders only so long as they think them profitable. At the moment of trial, all will crumble.

So then, do not imitate this fool you have for a leader. Rather, be a man of integrity. Those about you will not take long in discovering it.

As ever,

Isaac the alchemist

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