Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A good king. . .

We no longer live in the days of regal monarchs and feudalism.  We have, since then, realized that the wealth of nations is in the goods, services, labor, and infrastructure and not what treasures can be found in a royal vault. Loyalty is no longer the currency of the realm, and colonization and conquest are essentially things of the past.
Those who would've been nobles in medieval times, instead of being the only permitted social class with the right to fight for the kingdom, never take up arms in defense of their titles and wealth.  Political leaders are no longer concerned with God's approval over their reign, only with their approval rating.

In many ways we are better off, and no one would dispute that fact if we looked at standards of living.  However, historically we have always said that we must learn from our failures--but then never discuss them.  Why did monarchy fail?  Why do we still have bits of it in our societies today if it was largely a failure?  What, about monarchy, is a success that enabled the institution to endure for several millennium?
Well, I believe I have the answer--and it can all be summarized in the attributes of a good king.

A good king raises no army, but is the sole defender of his realm.  Every tyrant in history has been labeled so because they compelled their people into conquest and fighting.  A true leader would take the burden of defense and military conquest solely on himself.  If that meant he was the only man taking up the sword to defend the realm from an army, then a good king would do so even to his death.  It is also worth noting that a good king would never, in reality, stand alone--his people would want to defend him and would take up arms willingly beside him.

A good king would always seek to help and uplift their neighboring kingdoms.  Whether political opinion considers them allies or enemies, aide and service would always be provided and available from a kingdom's abundance.  It is hard to go to war with someone who has willingly subjugated themselves to you in service, and harder still to get any kind of public opinion in favor of doing so.  If a king does so at his own apparent expense without any hope of financial return, he will find quickly that trade and cooperation vastly overcome any drawbacks of giving freely.

A good king rewards titles, honors, and responsibility.  He motivates those he rules to be the best they can be.  He harnesses the ambitions of his people to become the best they can be and to work for the good of the nation.  He acknowledges the nobility and capacity for honor in all his subjects, and seeks to recognize and reward them as capable.  He relies more on this than internal discipline and taxation.

A good king is the most prominent patron of the arts.  Without nobility and visibility, we are not inclined to view and study the past--market forces have proven that with modern entities of high culture (symphonies, operas).  What good would titles and honors be if they did not carry historical significance.  Speech writers, musicians, dancers, painters, all of these move towards subjects of note and portray (and often embellish upon) their triumphs and shortcomings.  Having these as part of a monarch's role specifically makes titles of honor carry actual power and influence.  The arts, above all other institutions, make a responsibility of weight and importance beyond the lifespan of the individual granted it.

A good king has no servants.  He is capable of and obligated to fill his own needs.  Doing this, more than any other activity, will enable him to relate and empathize with the people he leads.  If he works hard and fills his responsibilities well, then one would hope that his subjects would want to serve him--but never as a full time position.  Regardless, he is esteemed as the greatest among his people, and is therefore designated as their eternal servant.

A good king spends the majority of his time pondering on the difficulties of his people.  He is worried about all he serves and is never able to set their problems aside until they are solved to satisfaction.  It's not enough to just work through problems, he must address them in a patient, wise, and loving fashion.  Some matters are delicate, some parties are wrong, some issues only exist when given attention.  It is a king's duty to resolve these, and not let them fester or escalate.  If it means the king needs to play the bad guy, or the knight in shining armor, or simply needs to be present to solve an issue, than he does it.  Within the responsibility, I consider the charge to carry forth and encourage research.

Lastly, a good king is accountable to God.  He acknowledges (regardless of his religious background) that there is an abundant supply of powers greater than his own, and that he, himself, is subject to them.  A good king acknowledges and accounts for his actions to these powers.  A godless king is still accountable to the powers of his people, but will never lead his people to be greater than what they already are.  Whichever power you account to, that is what you will lead your people to become and the greater the power you follow the greater your nation can become.

Now for my point (and reason for making this post).  We have a lot of crappy leaders.  Most of us, if we were honest with ourselves, would make crappy leaders.  We don't have guidelines for good leadership--we barely have a measuring stick to serve as comparison.  I am not just referring to political leadership.  These principles apply to any person who fills a role of governor.  Good fathers are, in a way, good kings in their homes.  Leaders of school boards are kings in their sphere of influence.  Many matriarchs are the monarchs of their realm.  Many adults do serve in king-ship style roles in one way or another.

My real hope is that some few people will take this to heart and start to make a measuring stick for themselves to see how well they are filling their leadership role within their sphere of influence.  I don't, honestly, know what the criteria would be for a good queen.  I'll leave that post up to Dani.

Why I'm (still) a Mormon

I don't expect much more to ever be posted on this blog, and I'm largely just posting this to share it with some particular friends....